Crushed Dreams In The Glass Menagerie

1243 words - 5 pages

Crushed Dreams in The Glass Menagerie

 
    Tennessee Williams is known for his use of symbols, tension, and irony. Williams uses all of these components to express the central theme of The Glass Menagerie - hope followed by despair. Each of the characters has dreams that are destroyed by the harsh realities of the world.

 

            As the narrator blatantly admits, 'since I have a poet's weakness for symbols', symbols are central to The Glass Menagerie (Williams 30). Symbols are merely concrete substitutions used to express a particular theme, idea, or character. One major symbol is the fire escape which has a separate function for each of the characters. This fire escape provides a means of escape for Tom from his cramped apartment and nagging mother. Therefore, the fire escape for him represents a path to the outside world. For the gentleman caller, the fire escape provides the means through which Jim can enter the Wingfield apartment, thus entering their lives. For Amanda, the fire escape allows Jim to come into the apartment and prevent Laura from becoming a spinster. The significance of the fire escape for Laura is that it is her door to the inside world in which she can hide. It is ironic that when Laura does leave the security of her apartment, she falls. This symbolises Laura's inability to function properly in the outside world.

 

            Another recurring symbol is the glass menagerie which represents Laura's hypersensitive nature and fragility. Laura is just as easily broken as a glass unicorn - and just as unique. When Jim accidentally bumps into the unicorn and breaks it, the unicorn is no longer unique. Likewise, when Jim kisses Laura and then shatters her hopes by telling her he's engaged, she becomes broken-hearted and less unique. Part of the innocence which made Laura so unique is now lost. Both Laura and her glass menagerie break when they are exposed to the outside world, represented by Jim. When Laura gives Jim her broken unicorn, it symbolises her broken heart that Jim will take with him when he leaves. The unicorn is no longer unique like her, rather he is common now - more like Jim. Therefore, she gives the unicorn to Jim. Just as she gives Jim a little bit of herself to take with him, he leaves behind a little bit of himself with her shattered hopes.

 

            Another recurrent symbol used throughout The Glass Menagerie is the use of rainbows. Rainbows symbolise hope and each mention of rainbows in the play is associated with a hopeful situation. When Tom talks about his rainbow-coloured scarf that he got at the magic show, he talks about how it changed a bowl of goldfish into flying canaries. Just like the canaries, Tom hopes to fly away too - to escape from his imprisonment. The chandeliers which create rainbow reflections at the Dance Hall foreshadow the dance between Jim and Laura which instils hope within her. At the end when Tom looks at 'pieces of coloured glass, like...

Find Another Essay On Crushed Dreams in The Glass Menagerie

Dreams vs. Reality: The play "The Glass Menagerie" written by Thomas Lanier Williams, posses different aspects of how the Wingfields escape into their own little happy place.

738 words - 3 pages Dreams vs. RealityAs the world turns, some people look around and imagine life as a dream world. Others look at the world as it is....the world of reality. The imagination allows people to find an escape from reality to cope with the problems faced each day. The play "The Glass Menagerie" written by Thomas Lanier Williams, posses different aspects of how the Wingfields escape into their own little happy place. The author expresses escapism in

Characterization in The Glass Menagerie Essay

1137 words - 5 pages Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie makes use of the characters to not only show a story but to also tell a story. Characterization is how characters are represented and the ways in which this is accomplished, such as, how an author limits one’s responses, questions or observations, for instance. An author may also characterize a character through his or her gestures or speeches. The idea of characterization and how one

Desperation in The Glass Menagerie

771 words - 3 pages Menagerie only to produce hopelessness as the ultimate outcome. Expressing the turmoil in the life he sees before him, Tom curses "How lucky dead people are!" (1.3.34). The Glass Menagerie, written by Tennessee Williams, portrays a dysfunctional family succumbing to the recurring destiny of desperation and remorse. Amanda, the mother of two adult children, desperately tries to prod her children into seeking a better future. She pushes her son

Symbolism In The Glass Menagerie

1908 words - 8 pages Examine Tennessee Williams's use of symbols in ,'The Glass Menagerie "˜ in the first three scenes.' I have a poet's weakness for symbols "˜. This is part of the introduction of the play , given to us by Tom Wingfield , who is not only the narrator , but also plays a major part in ,'The Glass Menagerie "˜. This sentence represents the play because its meaning is that Tom is saying that he is not real , he is just a symbol of his

Family in Williams' The Glass Menagerie

729 words - 3 pages The dictionary defines a menagerie as a small collection of valuable or precious items. In Tennessee Williams' novel, The Glass Menagerie, a family is indeed shown as a menagerie and how all the members of that family have a false reality, which is made of glass and can easily break at any time. Tom's, Laura's, and Amanda's false realities are combined to form a menagerie of dreams. Tom?s mental façade is composed of pirates and films to escape

Misguided Love in The Glass Menagerie

1401 words - 6 pages Misguided Love in The Glass Menagerie The Glass Menagerie, written by playwright Tennessee Williams, is the story of a family torn apart by heartbreak from the past and tragedy from the present. Williams' parallels this play to his true life experience with his own family, which makes The Glass Menagerie an even more tragic version of what happens to a family when love is lost and abandonment is reality. Providing for a family can be an

Tom’s closing speech in The Glass Menagerie

921 words - 4 pages Tom’s closing speech in The Glass Menagerie Tom’s closing speech in The Glass Menagerie is very emotional and ironic. However, this monologue is somewhat ambiguous and doesn’t implicitly state whether Tom found the adventure he sought. It seems as though he never returned to St. Louis, and spent the remainder of his life wandering from place to place. This is inferred when he says,” I didn’t go to the moon, I went much further-for time

Alienation in Tennessee Williams', The Glass Menagerie

973 words - 4 pages Alienation in Tennessee Williams', The Glass Menagerie Life is a lonely tale of alienation, as Tennessee Williams conveys though his play, “The Glass Menagerie.” Williams surrounds Laura in isolation from a world in which they wish to belong to by using various symbols. The symbolic nature of the motifs hidden within the lines of this play provides meaning to the theme found consistent throughout the play: Individuals are all alone in the

Imagined Lives in The Glass Menagerie

763 words - 3 pages Imagined Lives in The Glass Menagerie     The Glass Menagerie is representative of how modern home life is perceive in many modern works of literature. The home is broken, and each family member survives only because of their dreams, which lie in a fantastic world. Amanda, Tom, and Laura's fantasies significantly affect how they interact with each other, and foreshadow the type of disappointment that each character faces

Essay on Escape in The Glass Menagerie

1042 words - 4 pages Escape in The Glass Menagerie In Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, none of the characters are capable of living in the real world. Laura, Amanda, Tom and Jim use various methods to escape the brutalities of life. Laura retreats into a world of glass animals and old gramophone records. Amanda is obsessed with living in her past. Tom escapes into his world of poetry writing and movies. Jim also reverts to his past and remembers

Escaping Reality in "The Glass Menagerie"

833 words - 3 pages In Tennessee Williams's play, The Glass Menagerie, he reflects upon the economic status and desperation of an American family living in St. Louis during the 1930s. Williams portrays three characters: Amanda Wingfield, the disappointed mother; Tom, the narrator and trapped son; and Laura, the crippled daughter. Williams compares the Wingfield apartment to "one of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units..." a reminder to

Similar Essays

Dreams Of Escape In The Glass Menagerie

2309 words - 9 pages Dreams of Escape in The Glass Menagerie   "Anyone can handle a crisis, but day-to-day living is the most trying aspect of life" (Jackson 19). This is especially true in the drama The Glass Menagerie. None of the characters in this tale is willing to or capable of living in the present. Everyday life becomes so mindless and oppressive that each character's dreams and fantasies become more important than reality itself. Through their dreams

Dreams And Escape In The Glass Menagerie

2286 words - 9 pages Dreams and Escape in The Glass Menagerie   None of the characters in The Glass Menagerie is capable of living in the present. Everyday life is so oppressive that each character, through their dreams, retreats into a fantasy world. This essay will examine the reality faced by Amanda, Tom, Laura and Jim and probe how, through their dreams, each character attempts to transcend reality. Amanda, having "lost" her husband and having

Essay On Dreams And Escape In The Glass Menagerie

1020 words - 4 pages Dreams and Escape in The Glass Menagerie       The dream of escape is the focal point in the play, The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams. Although each character wants to escape from a different reality, they all feel the need to get away. The father is the most successful in his escape - he leaves the family and doesn't look back. Laura, Amanda, Tom, and Jim, are not as fortunate, they seem to be stuck throughout the play. Jim seems

Dreams Of Escape In The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams

2196 words - 9 pages      In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams presents us with four characters whose lives seem to consist in avoiding reality more than facing it. Amanda lives her life through her children and clings to her lost youthfulness. Tom retreats into movie theaters and into his dream of joining the merchant seamen and some day becoming a published poet. Laura resorts to her Victrola and collection of glass ornaments to help sustain her world of