In the play "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, Williams uses many symbols which represent many different things. Many of the symbols used in the play try to symbolize some form of escape or difference between reality and illusion.
The first symbol, presented in the first scene, is the fire escape. This represents the "bridge" between the illusory world of the Wingfields and the world of reality. 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 of Amanda and Laura and an entrance into the world of reality. For Laura, the fire escape is a way into her world. A way to escape from reality. Both examples can readily be seen: Tom will stand outside on the fire escape to smoke, showing that he does not like to be inside, to be a part of the illusionary world.
Laura, on the other hand, thinks of the fire escape
as a way in and not a way out. This can be seen when Amanda sends Laura to go to the store: Laura trips on the fire escape. This also shows that Laura's fears and emotions greatly affect her physical condition, more so than normal people.
Another symbol presented deals more with Tom than any of the other characters: Tom's habit of going to the movies shows us his longing to leave the apartment and head out into the world of reality. A place where one can find adventure. And Tom, being a poet, can understand the needs of man to long for adventure and romance. But he is kept from entering reality by Amanda, who criticizes him as being a "selfish dreamer." But, Tom has made steps to escape into...