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, Amanda, Tom, Laura, and Jim attempt to transcend reality in order to escape the monotony of life.
Having lost her husband and being left alone to raise her two children Tom and Laura, Amanda finds herself in a very undesirable situation. This situation is only made worse through Amanda's disappointment in her children, whom she considers lost. She believes her son to be unrealistic, as he is constantly dreaming about becoming a respected poet rather than committing to a steady job. As a result, Amanda is very confused and uncertain about her and her children's future. Worse still, the fact that Laura is crippled, which she refuses to acknowledge however, worries her even more, insofar as she tries to arrange everything for her 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 in making ends meet. Disappointed by Laura's inability to cope with the studies in the business school, Amanda cannot but desperately find her a reliable husband who can provide material and emotional security. But her flattering hope is 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...