The Glass Menagerie is a play by Tennessee Williams. The story revolves around the Wingfield family and their struggles with life and love. The glass menagerie refers to the collection of glass animals that the daughter, Laura, keeps.
The play is set in St. Louis during the Great Depression. The family is struggling to make ends meet and the father has left them. The mother, Amanda, is obsessed with finding a husband for her daughter, Laura. Laura is shy and introverted and has a hard time dealing with people.
The son, Tom, works at a warehouse to support the family. He is unhappy with his job and wants to be an artist. He dreams of going to see the world. The play focuses on the family’s struggles and how they deal with them. It is a beautiful story about love, loss, and hope.
A Tennessee Williams play based on the 1930s Depression era. St. Louis is the setting for this little cramped apartment drama. A quartet of characters with simple lives who prefer to run from reality rather than confront it. The ‘memory play’ has an aura that defines each character’s escapism, since each one altered their tough conditions into shadows of truth. None of the actors can fully immerse themselves in the present moment. To escape reality, they retreat into their own private realms and ignore what happens around them.
The story is narrated by the son, Tom, who also acts as a character in the play. The father ran off years ago and never came back. The mother, Amanda, is overbearing, nagging, and constantly worrying about her two children finding suitable husbands and making good matches. The sister, Laura, has a mental disability and walks with a limp.
She is extremely shy and lives in her own world of glass animals that she polishes obsessively. The only gentleman caller that ever comes to the house ends up being a disaster. The play is full of symbolism and written in beautiful prose. It is a classic example of American literature that deals with important themes such as family dynamics, escape from reality, and the effects of the past on the present.
I believe the playwright made effective use of symbols, tensions, and irony in writing this work. He uses all of these elements to illustrate what I consider to be the play’s major theme: the hopeful yearning that is ultimately crushed by unavoidable letdowns. The characters in this drama have aspirations, which are dashed by harsh reality.
Because I suffer from a poet’s affliction for symbolism, symbols are merely employed to bring across a certain subject, idea, or character. The fire escape, which has a distinct purpose for each of the characters, is one that I believe is important.
When we first see the fire escape, it is in use by Tom as an escape from his dreary life and nagging mother. The second time, it is being used by Laura, who is running away from the Gentleman Caller. The third time, it serves Amanda’s purpose of forcing the Gentleman Caller to come in and meet her family. The fourth time, we see the fire escape, it has no function at all. It is just an old, rusted piece of metal. The change in the function of the fire escape symbolizes the change in the hopes and dreams of each character.
One other important symbol is the glass menagerie itself. The glass menagerie represents Laura’s fragile world. It is a world that is easily breakable and can never be put back together the same way. The glass menagerie is also a symbol of Laura’s isolation from the world. She is so fragile and delicate that she can never really be a part of the world. She is always going to be on the outside looking in.
The play also has a number of tensions which add to the overall effect of the play. The first tension is between Tom and his mother. Amanda is always nagging Tom about something or other. She is always trying to get him to do something that he doesn’t want to do. This causes a lot of tension between them. The second tension is between Tom and Laura.
Tom feels guilty about leaving Laura behind when he goes out into the world. He knows that she is too fragile to fend for herself. This tension comes to a head when Tom tries to get Laura to go out on a date with him. The third tension is between Amanda and Laura. Amanda is always trying to live vicariously through Laura. She is always trying to make Laura into something that she is not. This causes a lot of tension between them.
The play also has a number of ironies. The first irony is that Amanda is always talking about how horrible it was when she was young and had to fend for herself. Yet, when her children are old enough to fend for themselves, she does everything she can to keep them from leaving. The second irony is that Laura is so afraid of the outside world, yet she is the one who ends up going out into the world. The third irony is that Amanda is always talking about how her daughter needs to find a husband, yet it is her own son who ends up finding a husband.
Tom’s small apartment and harpy mother provide him with an escape route, as does this fire escape. As a result, the fire escape for him symbolizes a pathway to the outside world where ambitions may be fulfilled. Jim’s entrance into the Wingfield home is facilitated by the fire escape, which serves as a doorway into their lives for Jim.
For Amanda, Tom’s mother, the fire escape allows Jim to enter the apartment and keep Laura from becoming a spinster. It is ironic that when Laura departs her apartment for the first time she falls down. This represents Laura’s inability to function effectively in the outside world.
The fire escape is a place where Tom goes to dream, Amanda goes to gossip, and Laura goes to hide. The fire escape is integral to the development of each character. It provides a sense of hope, a way out, and an entrance. The fire escape is more than just a physical structure it is a symbol of the human condition.