In life, many challenges must be faced. However sometimes, rather than confronting challenges, people see creating an escape to avoid reality as the simpler solution. In The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams shows how a person is capable of creating an escape to avoid facing something in their lives, in most cases, reality. Symbolism extends throughout the play and helps bring out and develop the theme of how escapes are created to avoid reality.
Through symbolism, William is able to emphasize how one will create an escape to avoid facing reality. In The Glass Menagerie, Tom Wingfield is unhappy with his life as his primary role is to work and provide for his family. Tom creates many escapes to avoid the reality of the miserable life he lives. One example of symbolism used is the fire escape. Tom uses the fire escape frequently throughout the play to escape his responsibilities and to enter a deceptive realm where he is free of this burden. An example of this can be seen when, in Scene One, the family is having dinner and Amanda is criticizing the way Tom is eating. Tom gets frustrated and decides to go onto the fire escape to smoke. This is clear when Williams writes "Tom rises and walks toward the living room." (Williams 7). Clearly Tom's first choice of action is to avoid reality and to escape. Rather than continuing to deal with his mother Amanda, Tom decides to get up and leave. Another example of symbolism used in The Glass Menagerie is the movies. When Tom decides to leave the apartment, he often goes to the movies. This can be seen when tom says "I go to the movies because–I like adventure. Adventure is something I don't have much of at work, so I go to the movies." (Williams 33). It is obvious that Tom is miserable living in the apartment and working at the warehouse which are free of adventure. Therefore he uses the movies as an escape from his unhappy life and is able to achieve happiness.