Symbolism Plays an Important Part in 'the Glass Menagerie'

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Symbolism plays an important part in 'The Glass Menagerie'. In his play The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams uses a multitude of symbols. From these symbols, there comes a deeper understanding of the relationships between the play's four characters. The most obvious symbol in this play is Laura's glass menagerie, representing the world she lives in. Another recurring symbol is that of the fire escape. Each symbol is a concrete substitution used to express a particular theme, idea, or character. The Glass Menagerie is set in the apartment of the Wingfield family. By description, it is a cramped place located in the city of St. Louis. It is one of many apartments in the neighborhood. Of the Wingfield family members, none like living in the apartment. The only reason that traps them in their submissive dwelling is poverty. The concept of escaping their own lives and retreating into an illusion world has entered each of the character's minds. Escaping from this lifestyle, this apartment, and these relationships is a significant theme throughout the play. These escapes are linked with the symbolic "fire escape" as well as the absent Mr. Wingfield. Our author, Tennessee Williams, uses the fire escape as well. His escape is through the story of the play. The play represents Williams' own distraught family. The characters in the play are intended to depict his family members. Laura is modeled after his sister, Rose, who too, had various mental issues. Tom's character reflects Williams' hunger to escape his responsibilities of the family and lead a life of adventure due to his absent father. Growing up, Williams could not rely on his father much because he was an alcoholic. This could explain why Williams' childhood was "lonely and miserable." He did not have a male figure to look up to. Williams' method of coping with all of these issues is through the story.
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