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 fantasy. Finally, Jim is only able to find some relief in his glorified old memories. This essay will examine how Amanda, Tom, Laura and Jim attempt to escape from the real world through their dreams.
Amanda was abandoned by her husband and now must take care of her two children, Tom and Laura. Amanda considers Tom unrealistic, daydreaming about becoming a recognized poet rather than staying committed to his present job. Amanda is overwhelmingly confused and perplexed about the future. Worse still, the fact that Laura is crippled worries her even more. Amanda tries to arrange everything for Laura lest she will live paralyzed in the threatening world. Aware of the reality, she enrolls her in a secretarial course in the hope that she would become, if not successful in her career, at least independent. Disappointed by Laura's inability to cope with the classes in the business school, Amanda tries desperately find her a reliable husband who can provide material and emotional security. But her hopes are unrealistic. Not even having met Jim, the gentleman caller Tom brings home at her mother's request, Amanda, looking at the little, slipper-shaped moon, asks Laura to make a wish on it for happiness and good fortune to be brought by this gentleman caller, when it is just wishful thinking on her part inasmuch as Laura, in fact, just prefers being "immured" in home, alone.
Equally unrealistic is her abrupt reversion to her past when the gentleman caller is about to arrive, when the dream of a promising future seems about to be realized. On this occasion, she is dressed in the same girlish frock she wore on the day she met the children's father, attempting to conceal her shabby present and recapture part of the elegance she associates with her giddy days of entertaining many gentleman callers.
Bewildered by her immediate surroundings and unable to cope with the social and economic reality of the Depression days, Amanda is often obsessed with her past as the genteel southern belle dominated by refined social gatherings and elegant living conditions, reminiscing about her own experiences with men in Blue Mountain:
"One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain - your mother received - seventeen! - gentleman callers!..." (Williams 16). Attempting to materialize her southern belle past, she even makes constant insistence on Laura's having gentleman callers.
Tom, though not physically crippled as his sister Laura, finds himself "paralyzed" in the warehouse in which he works. Faced with the bleak aspects, and...