C.W.E. Bigsby suggests that the play asserts that people 'desire to live with comforting fictions, rather than confront brutal truths, a doomed and ultimately deadly strategy. It is a bleak vision of life.'
How far do you agree with this evaluation of 'The Glass Menagerie'?
In The Glass Menagerie none of the characters are capable of living completely in their present circumstances. They all retreat into their own little worlds to escape the 'brutal truths' of life, like many others during this time. Williams illustrates this by referring to a 'school for the blind' in which the middle class of America found comfort. We are told, by Tom, of the 'dissolving economy' during the depression, and how the American people had 'failed their eyes. Refusing to acknowledge a problem exists is a major theme of the play.
To set the play firmly in the thirties Williams mentions Guernica twice, and Chamberlain's umbrella.
To a modern audience this would have little meaning. To audiences at the time they would have understood the duel meaning. The umbrella that Chamberlain always carried and the agreement from Hitler. There are also hints concerning what is to come. Imminent changes within the year. As the play is set before the war, post-war audience will realise that these changes concern the war. It is this knowledge that makes us feel sorry for the characters, especially Jim. As Tom is the narrator, we know he has survived the war but we never know about Jim. He makes plans for a future he may never have.
Laura, who appears to outsiders as 'terribly shy' and 'a little peculiar,' spends her time playing with glass animals and old records. She uses these items to occupy the emptiness in her life that the desertion of her father has...