The poem, ‘The Glass Menagerie’ is a play, which focuses on memory. By enhanced application of music and light, the play highlights disparity in a family of three (Tennessee, 3). Written by Tennessee Williams in 1944, the play majors on four characters who highlight the major theme ‘being trapped’. Life as a comprehensive cycle of satisfaction can be inhibited by being trapped in vanity of human wishes. This study re-examines the theme of being trapped as an opportunity to flee from reality. The study emphasizes how characters in the play appreciate imaginary life in place of reality.
Tom highlights this theme as he traverses from memory to reality. This entire play is an escape from reality into memory as Tom finally shares his background (Tennessee, 1). This poem has been narrated from Tom’s perspective to show some inner slavery into his emotions towards the sister and the mother. Though he managed to escape physical reality sixteen years ago, he cannot escape the continuous reminder of Amanda, Amanda’s desires for Laura and his father, Mr. Wingfield. Tom is grief stricken and is continuously haunted by Laura’s figure following him in his life.
Initially, Tom desired to become a poet yet he was still employed at a shoe company. As a poet, he was sure to achieve his dreams and become satisfied in life, as poetry would offer him an opportunity to read and enjoy his life unlike his present predicament. His inner desire is seen by the extent he loathes his job. He is trapped in his job by the overwhelming family burdens of and frequent pressure from his mother further drives in the inner desire to escape and assume his ideal career. Tom feels he is trapped and escapes into fantasy world by engaging himself in movies and becoming drunk all night. During his nightly escapades, he encounters a magician who escaped from a coffin without removing even a nail. Amanda and Laura makes Tom feel trapped in his present life that is represented by the coffin. Tom is trapped in economic diffidence, which can only be achieved through an interior price. Unlike the performing artist, he is unable to escape without getting rid of any nail from the coffin as he escaped his former life and hurt his mother and sister. Unfortunately, when he escapes, he is continuously haunted by the memory of his mother and sister. The entire poem is thus a memory depicting some form of captivity.
At the end of the third scene, Tom confirms that he has been leading a double life. To overcome the continuous pressure, he desires to join the drinking spree and become drunk all night long. His disabled sister is also a thorn in his flesh as he is further pressurized to look for a suitable suitor for her. He decides to talk to Jim, his workmate to come for a visit. Tom fails to pay for power bill in order to save up to escape. Absence of electricity during Jim’s visit is a sign that Tom is about to flee away from home. On failing to capture Jim, Amanda pours out her anger on him and unconsciously offers him the most desired opportunity to escape from the present life challenges.
Mr. Wingfield was as well trapped into alcoholism and the responsibility of catering for an unqualified wife, disabled child and insecure son. Being attractive, charming and working in a telephone was dissatisfying and thus escaped from reality. In as much as he is represented by the photo in the house, he has escaped the central role of supporting his kin, thereby trapping his wife and son with this role.
Amanda and Laura likewise prominently highlight this theme by their frequent departure from reality to memory and dreams. Amanda is a Southern who resides in St. Louis with Tom and daughter, after Mr. Wingfield escaped from his roles. She has insufficient income and decides to capture her son for financial security. She is burdened with limited appreciation of men and universe and thus habitually mentioned Mr. Wingfield. As a mother, she ignores the emotional welfare of her son when Tom openly shares his hatred over the warehouse job. She feels trapped into motherhood by her husband and thereby traps her son with the family responsibilities. By frequently desiring her youthful comforts, she unconsciously feels trapped by the handsomeness and charm of her husband.
Amanda tries to escape from the present reality by repeatedly replaying her past in her youthful years in the South. She further desires to escape from the reality of living with a disabled daughter by looking for suitors for her. She desires to see her off in marriage and escape the role of providing for Laura. On finding out that Jim is actually engaged to someone else, she escapes from the present reality by hurting her son. She refuses to view issues as they appear and instead prefers to view issues as she desires. Instead of coming to terms with her daughter’s fetish, and son’s misery, she escapes into her fantasy world of how things should move.
Laura escapes from the present reality by creating structures of reality into the imaginary world she is in control of, the glass menagerie, in her memories and the liberty to walk in the park. Instead of facing the demands of learning, she makes off secretarial course without sharing with her mother and brother. Laura further escapes from the reality of hurting the mother by failing to share her intentions of dropping out of school. On being confronted by Amanda, she plays loud music to escape the argument. Later on, after realizing that Jim is engaged, she offers him the broken glass menagerie as a present instead of battling the anger within her. All the same, instead of escaping into the desired world, Amanda and Laura are able to make the best of their realities. Laura becomes a peacemaker between Amanda and Tom while Amanda increases the magazine subscriptions to earn more money (Cardullo, 161). Tom likewise desires to get away to the imaginary world. Instead, he physically escapes into poetry while at the warehouse and into alcohol. He physically escapes into the desired world but fails to escape from the love of his family.
The theme of being trapped shows up frequently in the poem, ‘The Glass Menagerie’ The theme of being trapped enhances the play by offering the characters opportunities to flee from reality. Tom is trapped by family issues but realized that despite his physical freedom, his family has imprisoned him through their emotions that keep reappearing in his memory.
Cardullo, Bert. “William’s The Glass Menagerie.” Explicator 55.3 (1997): 161. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Nov. 2015
Tennessee Williams. The Glass Menagerie. New York: New Directions. 1966. Print