Glass Managerie

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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In the play "The Glass Managerie" by Tennessee Williams, symbolism is a primary factor in representing escape. The protagonist, Tom, and his sister, Laura, are both linked symbolically to something that represents their freedom. Tom's escape is shown through his obsession with the movies, which provides him with a sense of adventure, something of which he claims he has none of. Laura's escape is represented in her glass managerie and the time and effort she puts forth into it and the fire escape is a representation of both of their freedoms.

In the play "The Glass Managerie" Tom lives a very boring and routine lifestyle. He lives and supports both his sister and mother by working at a shoe factory in which he is not happy. Tom feels trapped in this habitual and predictable world and uses the movies as his escape. An example is when Tom says "I go to the movies because "“ I like adventure.

Adventure is something I don't have much of at work, so I go to the movies" (Williams, Scene Four Page 33). This goes to show you just how unhappy Tom is and how he tries to use the movies to add adventure in his life. Tom also uses the movies to not only escape from his tiresome lifestyle but his nagging and controlling mother as well. Tom's mother is a very controlling women who never leaves Tom be and is always patronizing his every action, so the movies is a good release. After a very heated discussion in which his mother is making false accusations and telling him that he is jeopardizing the security of the family he decides he has had enough of her belittling him. He breaks for the exit but she grabs his arm and demands to know where he is going and he hollers "I'm going to the movies" (Williams, Scene three, Page 24). This shows that when he feels that he has enough of his mother and her authoritative ways he escapes to the movies, where he feels free from her control. Although Tom is able to find an escape from the troubles he is not alone in this situation.

Laura is a very shy and timid girl that secludes herself from the outside world. She avoids going out in public and uses her glass collection as and escape. There is one piece of glass that is her favorite, and it also possesses special meaning. She speaks of this one being her favorite because it is very different from the others. It is a glass unicorn and it is a perfect representation of Laura being very different from the norm. Although, when the gentlemen caller comes over and accidentally breaks its horn off, Laura says "Now its just like all the other horses" (Williams, Scene seven, Page 86). This shows she has escaped her feeling of being different and it is done through this glass unicorn. Laura, like Tom has a hard time dealing with the constant nagging of her mother to go out and meet gentlemen so she will have the opportunity to be wed some day, so her glass collection helps avoid confrontation with her mother. You can tell that Laura's glass collection is very important to her and takes a lot of her time when she says "I don't do anything "“ much. Oh, please don't think I sit around doing nothing! My glass collection takes up a good deal of time. Glass is something you have to take good care of" (Williams, Scene Seven, Page 81). Laura uses this collection of glass to escape the harsh realities of her world. Although this symbolizes her escape she also has another in which she shares with Tom.

The last object that symbolizes release holds great importance to both Tom and Laura. This symbolism of departure is the fire escape. Whenever Tom feels the need to get away from it all he retreats by using the fire escape. It is his way to get out of his mother's control and demanding ways. There is a scene in which Tom's mother is persistently bothering him to look for gentlemen callers at the warehouse but he is beginning to be bothered by his mother's persistence. Tom finally agrees by saying, " Yes! (He starts down the fire escape)" (William's, Scene Four, Page 36). This shows he is retreating away from his antagonizing mother by using the fire escape. Laura too sees the fire escape as a way out but she is not as successful as Tom is at leaving. When Laura's mother asks her to go out to get butter she leaves using the same escape as Tom but is not successful. Laura says, "I'm alright. I slipped, but I'm all right" (Williams, Scene Four, Page 29). This shows that when making an attempt to escape to the outside world she fails and is not able to cross over. That is one of the main differences between Tom and Laura, and that is their ability to get away from their harsh and dull lifestyles.

The idea of escape is represented in many ways throughout the course of this play. Whether it be the movies for Tom, the glass collection for Laura, or the fire escape for both of them, the idea of obtaining their own sense of freedom is very prevalent. It is always good to have something to escape too and receive your own sense of freedom. Whether it be from work, school, family or even friends we all need to take a break and find our own ways of escaping.