The Glass Menagerie: Appearance Versus Reality

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In the play, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, appearance versus reality is one of the main themes. Each main character lives in their own fantasy world, where they forget about reality, and it reflects on their appearance. While they do not belong in society, they have very different views on how life should be. Firstly, Laura does not feel she belongs in society and often is isolated from reality. Secondly, Amanda believes that her daughter, Laura, should focus on finding gentlemen callers, for it is the most important part of life, but what Amanda does not realize is that the world is not the same as it was when she was growing up. Thirdly, Tom tries hard to ignore the reality of his life and make his life seem more interesting by dreaming of his own life adventures and leaving to go to the movies to find adventure.

Laura is separated from reality, and has a hard time adjusting to modern society. The world she lives in holds the comfort and meaning that the real world does not provide for her, and it consists of her imaginary friends, the glass menagerie. She brings her glass animals to life, and gives them a personality where they have their own feelings and can tell her what they like and what they do not like. When Jim is over he noticed her collection and asks her about it. Jim: Unicorns – aren’t they extinct in the modern world? Laura: I know!

Jim: Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome.
Laura: Well, if he does, he doesn’t complain about it. He stays on a shelf with some horses that don’t have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together… Put him on the table. They all like a change of scenery once in a while! (Williams, 83-84) Laura’s glass menagerie collection is very important to her. It provides her an alternative life in which she can live separated to reality. Not only is she separated from reality, but she also has a hard time fitting in with modern society. Laura dropped out of her college after a few days of being there. The day she dropped out was the day after her hands could not hit the right keys on her first speed test. Also that day she had a bad stomachache where she almost could not make it to the washroom on her own. When her mother realized that she dropped out, many months later, she questioned Laura about it and she replied that she was just out walking. At first her mother did not believe her. Amanda: Laura, where have you been going when you’ve gone out pretending that you were going to business college? Laura: I’ve just been going out walking…

Amanda: From half past seven till after five every day you mean to tell me you walked around in the park, because you wanted to make me think that you were still going to Rubicam’s Business College? (Williams, 14-15) After her bad day at school, Laura felt she did not belong in college so she did not make another attempt at it and just dropped out of school. She went back to her own world and wandered the streets, simply walking nowhere. She does not think about the future and lives for her own fantasy world. When her brother invites over a gentleman caller for her she is too scared to answer the door. It reveals how her shyness can sometimes make her seem immature, and stuck in the past not moving on or growing up. Laura also tends to live in the past, but more importantly she lives among her sterile, unchanging glass animals, where unicorns, "extinct in the modern world," still remain, and where any change (such as a broken horn) requires banishment. Laura's shyness represents an emotional and social immaturity, just as her small bust suggests a lack of physical development. (Berkowitz) When Laura tries to move forward, she often finds herself back in the same spot she was to begin with. Society cannot be a part of her, for she simply does not fit in. The world that surrounds her is replaced with her own world where glass animals talk, and nothing changes. As Laura fails to belong in...
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