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Discuss Tennessee Williams' Use Of Imagery And Symbolism In The Glass Menagerie

2008 words - 8 pages

In Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagerie; he uses symbols to represent the reoccurring theme of the failure to accept reality and Tom's theme of escape. Like his narrator, Tom, Williams has a poet's "weakness for symbols" and the most prominent of these symbols is Laura's glass menagerie, which is very central to the play and links all the themes together.The first symbol, presented in the first scene, is the fire escape. This represents the "bridge" dividing the illusory world of the Wingfields and the world of reality.The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation.This "bridge" seems to be a one way passage. But the direction varies for each character. For Tom, the fire escape is the way out of the world he lives in with Amanda and Laura and an entrance into the world of reality. This also symbolises how Tom wants to escape from "the trap" he calls home and lead a more adventurous life. Therefore, he is drawn to the fire-escape to be in touch with the outside world and to forget the problems inside. It can be argued that "inside" is full of people who lead unrealistic lives, and that is Tom's reality. This is evident when Tom stands on the fire escape to smoke, showing that he does not enjoy being at home; to be a part of the illusory world of both Amanda and Laura, which they both find security in.For Laura, the fire escape is the way into her world, which is her escape from reality from the outside world she fears. She thinks of the fire escape as a way into the life she wants to lead, and not a way out. This can be seen when Amanda sends Laura to the store and on her way out; she trips on the fire escape. This also demonstrates that Laura's fears and emotions greatly affect her physical condition and feels vulnerable in a strange environment, where the presence of the people she depends on, is not there.Tom's habit of constantly going to the movies reveals to the audience that this is a symbol of his longing to leave the apartment and head out into the world of reality and adventure. It is not only an escape from Tom, but also a chance for him to soothe his frustrations. Tom is quickly frustrated and bored at home, because of Amanda's endless smothering. Therefore, being a poet, Tom feels that inspiration is necessary and the movies are the only sources of adventure in his life. It is also very apparent that the movies not only provide Tom with inspiration and adventure, but it also symbolises escape from the dull life he leads living with his mother and sister in St. Louis, Missouri. Amanda is completely unable to comprehend her son's needs in life and often doesn't believe that he is goes to the movies, when he goes out.I think you've been doing things that you're ashamed of. That's why you act like this. I don't believe that you go every night to the...

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