Tennessee Williams's Use Of Symbolism In The Glass Menagerie

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Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie
Symbols are used in literature to represent abstract ideas and thoughts. The use of symbolism is how authors convey their beliefs and messages to the reader and how they explicate on elements in their stories. In Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, he uses the symbolism of the fire escape to illustrate Tom’s character, Laura’s character, and his message about abandonment and escape in relation to human life.
One way Williams uses the symbolism of the fire escape is to inform the reader of Tom’s character in more detail. At the beginning of Scene III, Tom appears, in one of many times, near the fire escape, “Tom speaks from the fire-escape landing. ‘After the fiasco at Rubicam’s business college, the idea
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In the middle of Scene IV, Amanda asks Laura to leave and get groceries as she is is still mad at Tom and does not wish to speak to him. However, when Laura reaches the fire escape, she slips and hurts herself, “A second later she cries out. ‘I’m alright. I slipped, but I’m all right’” (761). This scene takes place the morning after Tom and Amanda’s fight. Laura begs Tom to apologize, but he remains unwilling. Amanda then sends Laura to buy groceries on credit, and as she is leaving she slips and hurts herself, suggesting that she can never escape this world--reality--and that she is naive to the point that when she is exposed to the reality of the outside world, she hurts herself. She is delicate, fragile, and easily broken, both physically and emotionally. Also, Laura exits the scene but remains at the emotional center, as she is the force that reconciles Tom and Amanda, showing that she might leave a small impact on situations, but she will not leave an effect on the world in which she is remembered. Similarly, at the end of Scene III, Laura is seen panicking when she becomes aware of Tom’s departure, “Laura clings weakly to the mantel with her face averted” (760). This quote describes Laura’s relationship with the fire escape and how she fears reality--every time there is anything brought up about her leaving or someone else leaving it has a major impact on her …show more content…
At the beginning of Scene IV, it is narrated that “Tom appears at the top of the alley. After each solemn boom of the bell in the tower, he shakes a little noise-maker or rattle as if to express the tiny spasm of man in contrast to the sustained power of the Almighty. This and the unsteadiness of his advance make it evident that he has been drinking. As he climbs the few steps to the fire-escape landing light steals up inside” (760). Among its many symbolic interpretations, the fire escape represents escape to the outside world. This narration portrays that Tom views his position in life at that time as a prison and wishes, more than anything, to escape. He is tempted and enticed to step out of that fire escape, leave for freedom and to the outside word, and never look back. However, his responsibilities of caring for Laura and Amanda tie him down, and he gives up this appealing opportunity to remain loyal to his family. The quote describes that he frequently leaves the house through the fire escape, yearning for adventure or a way to escape reality, showing his need to live life and, once again, foreshadowing his abandonment of Laura and Amanda. Through Tom’s state of mind, Williams is illustrating that humans must resist their temptations in order to see to their responsibilities and that there will inevitably be sacrifice one is required

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