C.W.E. Bigsby Suggests The Glass Menagerie Asserts That People 'desire To Live With Comforting Fictions, Rather Than Confront Brutal Truths.' How Far Do You Agree With This?

1663 words - 7 pages

C.W.E. Bigsby suggests that the play asserts that people 'desire to live with comforting fictions, rather than confront brutal truths, a doomed and ultimately deadly strategy. It is a bleak vision of life.'How far do you agree with this evaluation of 'The Glass Menagerie'?In The Glass Menagerie none of the characters are capable of living completely in their present circumstances. They all retreat into their own little worlds to escape the 'brutal truths' of life, like many others during this time. Williams illustrates this by referring to a 'school for the blind' in which the middle class of America found comfort. We are told, by Tom, of the 'dissolving economy' during the depression, and how the American people had 'failed their eyes. Refusing to acknowledge a problem exists is a major theme of the play.To set the play firmly in the thirties Williams mentions Guernica twice, and Chamberlain's umbrella. To a modern audience this would have little meaning. To audiences at the time they would have understood the duel meaning. The umbrella that Chamberlain always carried and the agreement from Hitler. There are also hints concerning what is to come. Imminent changes within the year. As the play is set before the war, post-war audience will realise that these changes concern the war. It is this knowledge that makes us feel sorry for the characters, especially Jim. As Tom is the narrator, we know he has survived the war but we never know about Jim. He makes plans for a future he may never have.Laura, who appears to outsiders as 'terribly shy' and 'a little peculiar,' spends her time playing with glass animals and old records. She uses these items to occupy the emptiness in her life that the desertion of her father has produced. Her missing her father is evident from the first scene. When Amanda mentions her husband for the first time in the play Laura immediately changes the subject and starts to move away from the other two. Laura is believed to be based on Williams's sister Rose. The nickname he gives to Laura recalls this connection, 'Blue Roses.' Reality has an insufficient grip on Laura, far worse than any other of the Wingfields. Elmo Howell's interpretation of Laura is as someone 'unable to cope with a physical infirmity' and someone who 'seeks refuge in an imaginary world.' I agree with this view of Laura. She uses her glass animals to distract herself from the fact that she's not like other girls her age. Laura's inability to relate to others can be seen during scene two, when Amanda tells us about the 'fiasco at Rubicam's Business College.' I agree with the majority of critics that say that Laura's menagerie is the place where she can find unwavering acceptance. It is a place where she doesn't feel out of place as she does in the real world, because it is filled with unicorns that are just as 'freakish' as herself. Although the menagerie as a whole is a symbol for Laura and her fragile beauty, the unicorn is the one animal that represents...

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