The Glass Menagerie Essay, Research Paper
Jim the long awaited gentleman caller brings the reality of the outside world into Laura s life [page # 448]. Jim is very different from Amanda and Tom: In one brief evening he introduces hope, warmth, companionship, sympathy, and finally disillusionment into Laura s life, which her own mother and brother cannot achieve in years. In Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie some of the characters (Amanda and Laura Wingfield) seem to be living in their own imaginary world and refuses to step into reality. In a different character (Tom Wingfield) the theme of escapism plays a major role. The most realistic character , Jim O Connor appears in the final scenes and changes Laura s life for good [page # 450].
Laura Wingfield, like a blue rose , is unique, special, and also cut off from the real world [page # 456]. Crippled from childhood Laura walks with the aid of a leg brace. Her shyness is paralyzing. Laura has her own imaginary world and resists every attempt to enter the real one. The main focus of Laura s life is her glass collection, which Amanda calls the glass menagerie [page # 486]. The glass menagerie symbolizes Laura s private world by its fragility and delicate beauty. She does not want to do anything drastic with her life. In fact, it seems that all she wants is to keep inside her own world, without having to deal with the decisions and demands of the real world. This can be seen through her attempt to attend Business College, in which she fails quite dramatically when her skills are to be tested. She quits, without telling her mother. From this we can see that Laura is extremely afraid of confrontations and situations where somebody is expecting something from her.
In my opinion, Amanda tries to live her own life through her daughter Laura. By finding no other path for a bright future for Laura, Amanda s focus shifts to finding a husband for her who would take the responsibilities for Laura and also be a help to the family s financial situation. Amanda is obsessed with the dreams of her past and seeks to experience the life that she never lived by seeing it through her daughter s eyes. I think this great expectation by her mother is the reason why Laura feels so unfit for the reality. She suffers from low self-esteem and doesn t believe that she could live up to her mother s expectations, and as a result Laura seems frustrated.
The theme of escapism plays a major role in Tom Wingfield s character. He wants to live his own life but his actions have a great affect on the well-being and security of his mother and sister. Tom feels trapped at an atmosphere, which he calls a 2 by 4 situation where his family is totally dependant on him and his wages [page # 460]. I think his father, Mr. Wingfield, felt the same way and found an easy solution by deserting the family. Tom is always dreaming of fantastic places and for now he escapes the harsh reality of the Wingfield apartment through the illusions offered by the movies and the stage magician. The most impressive trick by the magician becomes a symbol for his desire to escape. But unlike the magician, Tom has to pay a great price or metaphorically remove nails by jeopardizing his mother s and sister s well being, in order to flee [page # 460]. It is clear to see that he thinks of his sister Laura like a burden, which he always tries to get rid of and eventually does so by escaping.
In my opinion, both Amanda and Tom acts selfishly, by only chasing their own dreams, dreams where it is all about them, dreams where there is no character named Laura Wingfield. On the other side, Jim O Connor sees Laura as a symbol of purity like an unicorn , who is very pretty in an unique way and should be treated as a precious diamond valued as rare and beautiful [page # 486]. Tom recognizes that Laura suffers from a severe case of low self-esteem, which he calls an inferiority complex [page # 485]. He gives an example showing Laura how he once went through that same stage of low self-esteem but rediscovered himself as being superior compared to other people in some way [page # 485]. This is how Tom begins to cultivate the little seeds of self-confidence in Laura s mind. He shines the lights of hope into her eyes and makes her realize that life is not as bad as it seems to be. Tom promotes the sense of self-confidence in Laura even further by kissing her, even though he is committed to somebody else. Later on Tom unintentionally breaks Laura s favorite piece of glass, the unicorn, but surprisingly she does not show any sign of devastation. The unicorn symbolized Laura s singularity and the breaking of it symbolizes her return to the real world. After her chat with Jim and their kiss (most likely Laura s first one) Laura begins to build up more confidence even though she is a little hurt from learning that Jim is engaged.
In conclusion I will say that Tom is correct when he refers to Jim as expected something that we live for at the beginning of the play. In a very short time Jim changes Laura s whole life, now she is more confident than ever. Jim realizes that Laura is very isolated, which her family also recognizes but does not take it that seriously. In order to solve the problem Jim makes Laura more confident, he makes her realize that she is capable of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel .