Tom’s Escape in The Glass Menagerie
In Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menagerie, each member of the Wingfield family has their own fantasy world in which they indulge themselves. Tom escaped temporarily from the fantasy world of Amanda and Laura by hanging out on the fire escape. Suffocating both emotionally and spiritually, Tom eventually sought a more permanent form of escape.
Tom supports his family despite his unhappiness of his world. He tries to please Amanda by being the sole supporter, but only gets rewarded by Amanda’s constant nagging and suspicion. Eventually Tom finds himself more like his father as he seeks adventure in the movies and hangs out on the fire escape he avoids suffocation, and desperately seeks the life he always desired; the life of adventure.
By hanging out on the fire escape, Tom finds a temporary safe haven from Amanda. With Amanda nagging Tom about every minute action, like mastication, Tom needed to find somewhere to escape. Perhaps, even more, the fire escape shows various things about Tom’s personality. Since Amanda and Laura have their illusionary worlds inside, Tom can easily escape these worlds by going out on the firescape. He does not desire to be part of an imaginary world, which only proves to be the downfall of Amanda and Laura. He realizes that the world is not what Amanda has made it seem inside the house. Also, during his reflections on the firescape he is not really separating himself from the imaginary world because that metal frame is still anchored to the apartment wall. This shows that no matter how hard Tom tries to escape he will always be ‘bounded’ to the apartment. His emotional attachments to Laura would permantly k…
…s and it will be impossible for him to not disturb the nails. He is suffocating in his own figurative coffin, but knows his escape will upset Amanda and Laura.
Tom escaped from the fantasy world of Amanda and Laura by hanging out on the fire escape, even though he could never fully escape. Unfortunately for Tom, his life was cramped like the coffin and he was slowly suffocating emotionally and spiritually. Unhappy with the lifestyle he followed in the footsteps of his father, he searched for adventure, escaping the nagging of Amanda.
Works Cited and Consulted
Bloom, Harold Ed. Modern Critical Views: Tennessee Williams. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Williams, Tennessee. “The Glass Menagerie.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 1999. pp.1865-1908.