The Glass Menagerie

Life's Fire Escape

In Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagerie, the narrator conceives of art as a reprieve from the grim monotony of reality. Art, in this conception, is a medium that enables one to interpret reality. Tom, the narrator of the play, consciously creates art in an effort to subjectively redefine the present moment, and as a coping mechanism for the troubles in his life.

Tom deals with the tedium of his everyday life by using art as an escape. He single-handedly supports his mother and crippled sister by working a thankless job in a shoe factory. At home, Tom is the provider for the household, but in the factory Tom is little more than a robot. In this stifling environment, Tom's individuality is reduced to near-absolute anonymity. He has no great motivation or pride in his life, and turns to art to fill his emotional void. Tom's mother, Amanda, proclaims, "You live in a dream; you manufacture illusions! Where are you going?" (1999) to which Tom answers, "I'm going to the movies" (1999). Rather than stay and face the reality of his life, Tom chooses to go to the theater and live vicariously through the fictional lives of movie characters.

In reality, Tom assembles shoes, used as padding and...

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