The play The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, Williams uses many symbols
which represent many different things. Many of the symbols used in the play try
to symbolize some form of escape or difference between reality and illusion.
The first symbol, presented in the first scene, is the fire escape. This
represents the "bridge" between the illusory world of the Wingfields and the
world of reality. This "bridge" seems to be a one way passage. But the direction
varies for each character. For Tom, the fire escape is the way out of the world
of Amanda and Laura and an entrance into the world of reality. For Laura, the
fire escape is a way into her world. A way to escape from reality. Both examples
can readily be seen: Tom will stand outside on the fire escape to smoke, showing
that he does not like to be inside, to be a part of the illusionary world. Laura,
on the other hand, thinks of the fire escape as a way in and not a way out. This
can be seen when Amanda sends Laura to go to the store: Laura trips on the fire
escape. This also shows that Laura's fears and emotions greatly affect her
physical condition, more so than normal people.
Another symbol presented deals more with Tom than any of the other characters:
Tom's habit of going to the movies shows us his longing to leave the apartment
and head out into the world of reality. A place where one can find adventure.
And Tom, being a poet, can understand the needs of man to long for adventure and
romance. But he is kept from entering reality by Amanda, who criticizes him as
being a "selfish dreamer." But, Tom has made steps to escape into reality by
transferring the payment of a light bill to pay for his dues in the Merchant
Another symbol, which deals with both Amanda and Laura, is Jim O'Connor. To
Laura, Jim represents the one thing she fears and does not want to face, reality.
Jim is a perfect example of "the common man." A person with no real outstanding
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