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The Glass Menagerie

            The only escape in life is solving your problems, not avoiding them. Tennessee Williams", gives the reader an inside look into the lives of a common family living in the pre-war depression era in his play The Glass Menagerie. The members of this family experience a great deal and their lives are made much more vivid and meaningful through Tennessee Williams' use of symbolism. The two different symbols that can be found in the Glass Menagerie are escape, which provides hope and diversion from the outside world and the glass menagerie, which is a metaphor for Laura's fragility and uniqueness. .
             The first symbol, presented in the first scene, is the fire escape. "The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth." (426) This represents the "bridge" between the illusory world of the Wingfields and the world of reality. For Tom, the fire escape is the way out of the world of Amanda and Laura, and his view into the world of reality. Amanda sees the fire escape as an opportunity for gentleman callers to enter Laura's life. "Sometimes they come when they are least expected." (429) For Laura, the fire escape represents a way to hide from reality by staying inside the illusionary world of the apartment. Another way Williams" ties escape into the story is through Mr. Wingfield, the absent father of Tom and Laura and husband to Amanda. He is the ultimate symbol of escape because he has managed to remove himself from the bad situation that the rest of his family is still living in. His picture is featured prominently on the wall as a constant reminder of better times and days gone by. Amanda always makes negative comments about her missing husband, yet his picture remains. Tom always makes jokes about his dad, and how he "fell in love with long distances". (437) This is Tom's attempt to ease the pain of abandonment by turning his father's action into something humorous.

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