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Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie Analysis - Essay Example

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The characters, themes, and symbols in the final scenes of The Glass Menagerie reveal the significance of Tom’s behavior on the emotional welfare of his family, especially on Laura. As the primary caretaker of his family, it was up to Tom to provide for and take care of his mother and sister. However, his detached behavior throughout the course of the play suggests something other than love and kindness for his family. The intensity of his selfishness and lack of concern is made apparent toward the end of the play after Laura learns that Jim O’Connor, her high school crush, was engaged to be married, a major detail that Tom failed to mention when setting the two up for dinner. After the devastation of this scene, and despite the pain that he caused his sister, Tom left the house never to return. There was an ease in how he abandoned his family. His mother described his condition perfectly when she said, just moments before he walked out, “You live in a dream; you manufacture illusions!” (Williams). It was known that Tom was not always satisfied with his life, but the incident at the end of the play allowed him to get what he truly craved: boundless freedom. The greatest change was seen in Laura, who accepted the truth of reality when she was rejected by Jim and abandoned by Tom. Known for her shyness, or as Tom described her, “terribly shy and lives in a world of her own” (Williams), her reaction to Jim’s rejection is almost shocking. Though she takes his news of being in a committed relationship

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badly, she gave him the souvenier of the broken glass unicorn before he left. The glass menagerie was Laura’s pride and joy, as well as being a facet of who she was, and by surrendering one of her prized figurines, she was accepting that her reality was not in any material object. There is a strength present in Laura in this action that, while silently existing throughout the play, finally takes its mask off and reveals itself to the world. Tom’s abandonment may have been trying on Laura, who is not as emotionally fragile as others perceive, but it proved its use by allowing her to grasp the truth of her reality. She was no longer confined to her glass figurines. Themes of the impossibility of escape and the inability to accept reality abound in The Glass Menagerie, but come to fruition during the final scenes. While each character had the need to escape, the desire was strongest in Tom. He craved distance, while also fearing it (Bluefarb 515). He spent much of the play lost in books and music, losing himself in worlds far from his own, and regretting the dependency that his mother and sister had for him. Unfortunately, though their dependency was what kept him physically around, he had already emotionally and mentally left. By the end of the play, when he cracks under the pressure involved in keeping his fragile sister happy, and perhaps recognizing the strength in her as she responds to Jim’s rejection, Tom finally turns the impossibility of escape into a reality. He leaves, gaining the freedom that taking care of his family had deprived him. The theme of the inability to accept reality plagues Laura more than anyone else. From childhood, she was a different girl, sick with pleurosis and incredibly shy. Believing that she did not belong in reality, which is seen in how she abandoned or rejected her mother’

Summary

The Glass Menagerie: Analysis The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams delves into the lives of Tom Wingfield and his mother and sister, Amanda and Laura. After his father abandoned his family, Tom took on the duties of ensuring that his mother and sister had everything they needed to get along in life by supporting them financially…
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