Non-Linear References/ Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie

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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

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