Non-Linear References/ Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie

Topics: The Glass Menagerie, World War II, Great Depression Pages: 5 (1848 words) Published: May 30, 2006
Tennessee Williams', The Glass Menagerie, is a play that evokes great sympathy and in some cases, empathy for a protagonist who struggles to overcome two opposing forces; his responsibilities and his desires. There are many symbols and non-liner references that contribute to the development of characterization, dramatic tensions and the narrative. This essay will examine in detail, the aspects of the play that contribute to the development of the above mentioned elements. In Tom's opening addresses, he explains to the audience that the play's fifth character is his absent father –present only in the form of a picture that hangs on the wall. This picture that looms above the dining room table makes the reader visualize the Wingfield apartment as a shrine to deadbeat fatherhood. The father's presence in the Wingfield family is sustained only by a tangible medium [the portrait] while in actuality, he is no longer apart of the family. As is seen in the scene where Tom leaves home, the male figures are the ones to leave while the women stay behind where remembering becomes all that is left. Tennessee Williams makes reference to Guernica and the tension and growing turmoil in Spain. This allusion, juxtaposed to the uneasy peace in America at the time, establishes the tense atmosphere that the play is constructed around. The Americans of the thirties lived in relative peace after recovering from World War One and already experiencing the worst of the Great Depression. However, the audience of the time would see the thirties as the calm before the storm of World War Two. This allusion –the bombing of Guernica by the Nazis, serves as a reminder that war would soon be coming to everyone; various countries all over the world. Likewise, there is symmetry in the uneasy peace American is experiencing in the face of imminent chaos and the uneasy peace within the Wingfield apartment before the family structure and security is destroyed. Just as America restlessly experiences peace before World War Two, Tom is anxiously awaiting his escape to explore the world before him that will leave his family in ruins. Much like his father did. The fire escape is a prominent part of the setting. It is an important symbol that represents the imprisonment that Tom feels and the possibility of a way out. Williams characterizes the fire escape with symbolic weight, saying that the buildings are burning with the "implacable fires of human desperation." Tom makes several addresses to the audience from the fire escape. These addresses are highlights of the play and would indicate that the fire escape is a critical place in which he confides and depends on. It also foreshadows his departure from home as the "fire escape" is what enables his "escape" to search for solitude and freedom. At the fire escape, he stands alone between the outside world that awaits, and his apartment. This alludes to the painful choice he makes in scene seven. In order to escape, he must escape alone and leave his mother and sister, who are dependent upon him, behind. Laura's vulnerability and dependence is also emphasized in this symbolic space that is most closely linked to Tom. Tom will later climb down the fire escape one final time, leaving the apartment and his family forever. Laura stumbles on the fire escape, and the fall symbolizes her inability to fend for herself while exposed to the outside world. It also symbolizes her dependence on Tom and that she will be unable to survive when he chooses to use the fire escape to leave. The Blue roses are a significant symbol connected to Laura. While Amanda, the mother of Tom and Laura, speaks of her fear that Laura will be unable to support herself without a companion, she asks Laura if she has ever liked a boy. Laura responds that she had a crush on a boy named Jim when she was in high school. Laura continues to tell her mother that he use to call her "Blue Roses". The image of blue roses is a beautiful one but they are also pure...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie Essay
  • Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie Essay
  • Glass Menagerie Symbolism Essay
  • Symbolism in Glass Menagerie Essay
  • Essay about Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie
  • Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie Essay
  • Symbolism of the Unicorn in the Glass Menagerie Essay
  • Essay about Symbolism in the Play the Glass Menagerie

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free