Illusion vs. Reality in The Glass Menagerie Essay

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Illusion vs. Reality in The Glass Menagerie

       In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams uses the roles of the members of the Wingfield family to highlight the controlling theme of illusion versus reality. The family as a whole is enveloped in mirage; the lives of the characters do not exist outside of their apartment and they have basically isolated themselves from the rest of the world. Even their apartment is a direct reflection of the past as stories are often recalled from the mother's teenage years at Blue Mountain, and a portrait of the man that previously left the family still hangs on the wall as if his existence is proven by the presence of the image. The most unusual factor of their world is that it appears as timeless. Amanda lives only in the past while Tom lives only in the future and Laura lives in her collection of glass animals, her favorite being the unicorn, which does not exist. Ordinary development and transformation cannot take place in a timeless atmosphere such as the apartment. The whole family resists change and is unwilling to accept alteration. Not only is the entire family a representation of illusion versus reality, each of the characters uses fantasy as a means of escaping the severity of their own separate world of reality. Each has an individual fantasy world to which they retreat when the existing world is too much for them to handle. Each character has a different way of dealing with life when it seems to take control of them, and they all become so completely absorbed in these fantasies that they become stuck in the past.

Amanda Wingfield (mother) is the most unrealistic of all the characters. She clings desperately to the past as she repeatedly relives the memories of receivin...

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b. Jim

4. Laura's reaction to Jim's engagement

5. Laura's final plunge into illusion

C. Tom

1. Tom's desperate desire to escape reality inside home

2. Complaints of job and mother

3. Discussion of outside world

4. Admiration for father

5. Tom's final attempt to escape reality

6. Truth of Tom's attachment to truth of reality

D. Jim

1. Jim's understanding of reality versus illusion

2. Reflection of high school memories

3. Impact on Laura

a. Convinces Laura to dance

b. Kisses Laura

4. Breaks news of engagement to Laura

5. Impact on other Wingfield characters

a. Amanda

1. Seen as tender and caring for the first time

2. Comforts Laura with dignity

b. Tom

1. Decides to finally break away from reality of Wingfield home

2. Follows in father's footsteps

III. Conclusion

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