Indulging in Escapism In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams' presents us with a Family whose lives seem to be trapped in avoiding reality instead of facing it. The play, which is much like our own lives, is constantly pointing out ways of escaping. The characters in the play each try to find there way to escape but find that they continue to tangle themselves into there problems even more. Escaping is a main theme in the play. Each member of the Wingfield family cannot live in the present. Amanda, Tom, and Laura Wingfield each escape to avoid the reality of everyday life.
Laura is presented to us as the very fragile daughter of Amanda. She finds herself escaping life often. She fakes sickness in her typing class and also when the Gentleman Caller Jim, comes for dinner, she does this to escape situations she does not want to be in.
She is unable to deal with these problems. Laura spends her days going to the zoo, wasting time instead of going to typing class. She is frightened to interact with people and instead goes to the zoo were she does not fear being accepted or not. Laura also makes a world within her home as a place of acceptance, she develops a Glass Menagerie as a place were she can feel free from rejection be accepted. She has a favorite glass piece in her menagerie, the unicorn. Laura points out to Jim that the unicorn "doesn't complain" about being different either (Williams 275). Laura sticks to the fear that she is different because of her crippled leg, she magnifies her problem by not allowing her real beauty from within to come out. This is how Laura hides from a world she fears.
Tom faces the sad fact of working every day at the factory and having to return home every day to a family who cannot understand his problems and insecurities. He goes to the movies instead of facing his problems. He uses the movies and his dreams of going away and joining the "Union of Merchant Seamen" (Williams 264) as a way of avoiding the bitter fact that at the moment he has nothing. His dreams can come true for a time being when he is in the big dark theater, yet when he has to go home to a little apartment he has nothing to look forward to. Even when he eludes Amanda and goes to the fire escape he is not free because it still leads him back into the apartment that gives him trepidation.
Amanda lives in a world largely based on her imagined past. She may have added some memories from her past. This is meant to hide from the reality that her husband left and from her children who are both lost in there. She lives her life through her children, this is to help her avoid the true fact of how sad her life has become. Whenever Amanda bothers Laura and Tom about Gentlemen Callers she is going back to a time when her biggest decision was which Gentleman Caller should she pick. "One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain - your mother received - seventeen! - gentleman callers" (Williams 33). When Jim comes to dinner she puts on a show as if they were all living in the south. She acts as a typical southern hostess and she acts with southern manners trying to make a nice southern house out of a tiny cramped apartment. Under all her acts, lies a woman who refuses to age and who cannot face the fact that she was left by her husband to a life of poverty.
The efforts of the Wingfield family to escape turns out by making their problems worse. Laura is still a shy, self-dependent and sad girl who fears acceptance and lives in a world of glass animals. Tom though he does run away in hopes to find his dream still ends up in a dreaded life. Amanda still can't support herself and she continues to live in a fantasy world imposing it upon Laura. Laura ends up with no job no skills and hurt by Jim. The attempts made to escape a life of avoiding reality fail and Tom, Laura, and Amanda are still trapped.