Free Glass Menagerie Essays: Escape Symbolism

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Escape Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie


If we take a look at the different symbols used throughout the play, I think that the most important one when it comes to escape is the fire escape. It is in the center from the very beginning, when Tom makes his opening addressing to the audience from it. To understand the role of the fire escape one has to see that it serves a different purpose for each of the characters. In general we can say that it represents the borderline between freedom and imprisonment. Apart from this, the different characters see it in different ways. For Tom, the fire escape is an opportunity to get away from the apartment and his nagging mother. For Amanda, on the other hand, it's a door through which gentleman callers for Laura can come into their apartment / into their world. For Laura, even though she's been outside, it's the border between the safe and the dangerous, between the known and the unknown.

Also the Dance Hall across the street can be seen as a symbol of escape. Its name, Paradise Dance Hall, is a contrast to the lives of the characters, and to the current situation in the world as seen in the play. Also, Laura spends much of her time listening to her mothers' old records, hearing the same old music over and over again. I believe that the music coming from the dance hall can be interpreted to be Laura's possibility to escape from her monotonous life, a possibility that she cannot currently utilise.

The last symbol that I see as important for the theme is the father of Tom and Laura, Mr. Wingfield. He is the ultimate symbol of escape, as he has actually managed to get away. The fact that Amanda still has his picture on the wall tells us something about another way that she is attempting to escape; by keeping hold of the past, as the picture is probably there to remind of the good

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As the stage directions are a very important part of 'The Glass Menagerie' it is important to also take these into account when analysing the play. However I don't see that the stage directions as such has any real influence on the escape theme. Their role is more that of supporting the theme than it is to shift it in any direction. As I see it, this also goes for Tom's monologues as the narrator of the play.


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