In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams uses the theme of escape to help drive the play forward. None of the characters are capable of living in the real world. Laura, Amanda, Tom and Jim use various methods to escape the brutalities of life. Laura retreats into a world of glass animals and old records. Amanda is obsessed with living in her past. Tom escapes into his world of poetry writing and movies. Jim also reverts to his past and remembers the days when he was a high school hero. Mr. Wingfield is referred to often throughout the play. He is the ultimate symbol of escape. This is because he has managed to remove himself from the desperate situation that the rest of the family is still living in.
The fire escape helps develop the theme of the story. This entrance into the apartment provides a different purpose for each of the characters. The fire escape allows Tom the opportunity to escape the apartment and get away from his nagging mother. Amanda sees the fire escape as an opportunity for gentleman callers to enter their lives. Laura's view is different from her mother and her brother. Her escape seems to be hiding inside the apartment, not out.
Laura finds herself escaping at every turn. She induces sickness in her typing class and even as a gentleman caller waits in the living room. Another escape for Laura is her glass menagerie. Her collection of glass represents her own private world set apart from reality, a place where see can hide and be safe. Even when it appears that Laura is finally overcoming her shyness with Jim, she instantly reverts back to playing the Victrola once he tells her he is engaged. She is unable to cope with reality and she escapes back into her fantasy world of old records and glass figurines.
Amanda is obsessed with her past, and uses it to escape reality, as she constantly reminds Tom and Laura of the time she received seventeen gentlemen callers. The reader cannot even be...