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Tennessee William's the Glass Menagerie

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 02:29 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.2 
  • Words: 672
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Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

-- Albert Einstein.

The most important theme in The Glass Menagerie is the difficulty people have in accepting and relating to reality. As a result of their inability to overcome this difficulty, the characters withdraw into a private world of illusion to find the comfort they can’t find in real life.

Out of the three Wingfield family members, Laura probably is the one living furthest away from reality. There are several symbols in the play that represent that in some way. Her glass collection that she carefully takes care of, is the imaginary world she lives in to escape the real live where she doesn’t finish high school, fails typing class, and doesn’t have any “gentlemen callers” like her mother expects her to. Another symbol for Laura’s personality is “Blue Roses”, the nickname Jim gives her in high school. Blue roses are, although beautiful, not real and can’t be found in nature, what refers to Laura’s uniqueness but also to her very own, special beauty that lies beyond her differentness and inability to live in reality. Overall, Laura is a very important character, because the whole story is basically about her (Tom tells us) and she also is the one who is most concerned with the play’s theme of withdrawing from reality.

At first sight Tom seems to be the only one in the Wingfield family who is capable of functioning in the real world, interacting with strangers, and holding down a job to finance his mother and sister. But he also, withdraws into his illusions to abscond the never-ending conflicts with his mother and his frustration about his monotone, meaningless life. During the play, Tom often mentions “the movies” he’s going to all the time, which represent his attempt to escape all this and to give him the illusion of adventure. The same goes for the fire escape to where Tom often withdraws whenever the “fire” of conflict and arguing with Amanda...


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