Glass Menagerie- World Of Illusions Essay, Research Paper
A World of Illusion Every character, including Jim uses illusions of the past to escape the reality in which they live in, and non can live in the outside world, the present. They are so dependent on their fantasy worlds that they cannot function properly in their own lives. The characters in Tennessee William s The Glass Menagerie constantly live in a world of fantasies rather than living in the present reality. The characters use the fantasy world to escape a reality that they themselves cannot fulfill their dreams. Amanda is a person who lives alternately between a world of illusion and reality. The fact that her husband deserts her makes her realize that her life is meaningless and empty. The reality is that Amanda is an abandoned wife with two children. Amanda does not refer to Laura as crippled, but rather slightly deformed. When Laura stops going to school, Amanda steps into the present reality and thinks about the future and what will happen to her daughter if she does not get married. “I know so well what become of unmarried women who aren t prepared to occupy a position “(p.42), but as quick as she is to acknowledge Laura s disposition Amanda runs back into her world of illusion. When Tom brings up Jim, a possible male suitor for Laura, Amanda gets her hopes up and thinks that Jim is Laura s knight in shining armor, even though she has not met him yet. In preparing for Jim s arrival, Amanda wears a “dress in which she leads the cotillion, wins the cakewalk twice at Sunset Hill, and wears it on Sundays for her gentlemen callers.”(p.87) Amanda creates illusions in order to fill up her life. She escapes into a world of illusion, constantly referring to her seventeen rich gentlemen callers in order to get away from everyday life. Tom himself knows that his mother s seventeen callers is in reality just an illusion. She refers to them so much that she starts to believe her illusions are reality. She becomes too devoted to her children, which makes her relive her life through her children. She blindly refuses to recognize that her children have views different from hers. “You couldn t be satisfied with just sitting home” (p.85) says Amanda to Laura, but in reality Laura would much rather be home. Laura seems to “resist whenever I(Amanda) try to arrange something for you(Laura).”(p.85) She forces her ideas and opinions on her children and places them in bad situations. Her past were certainly better days than the life that she really lives in now. Though the past was wonderful, the present reality is that she is now an abandoned wife with two children. Laura “lives in a world of her own- a world of little glass ornaments and old phonograph records.”(p.81) Laura is oversensitive and fragile just like her glass figures. She has a slight deformity, a slight limp, which is magnified by her oversensitivity. To Laura her leg braces “sound like thunder”(p.112), but in reality no one hears them. Her inability to overcome her limp causes Laura to withdraw from what is real into what is make believe. Laura is just as easily broken like her glass unicorn which is a unique figurine. When Jim accidentally bumps into the unicorn and breaks it, the unicorn is no longer unique. Ironically, Jim kisses Laura and breaks her heart at the same time he bumps and breaks the glass unicorn which now is no longer unique. Laura and her glass menagerie both break when they are exposed to the outside world, Jim.
Tom lives in a world comprised of his poetry, dreams, freedom, and adventure. He is not satisfied with his job and personal life, and watches movies every night in search for adventure. Soon he realizes that he is watching adventure instead of living it. He believes that by staying where he is, his creativity, dreams, and freedom will be destroyed. When Tom talks about his rainbow-colored scarf that he got at the magic show, he talks about how it changed a bowl of goldfish into flying canaries. Just like canaries, Tom s dream is to fly away or escape from his imprisonment. He finally escapes, but cannot let go of his sister s memory. At the end when Tom looks at “pieces of colored glass, like bits of a shattered rainbow,” he remembers his sister and hopes that he “can blow her candles out.”(p.137) When Jim visits the Wingfields, he feels like he is reliving his high school years when “Jim was a hero.”(p.83) After high school Jim s reality is a “job that wasn t much better than Tom s.”(p. 83) Tom looks up to Jim, and thinks that Jim will get somewhere in life. Like Tom, Jim is not satisfied with his current position in life. The Wingfields provide Jim with an alternate reality (like the world that they live in themselves) that helps Jim forget the present reality and realizes that kissing Laura is a mistake; an illusion. Each time a character feels as if he/she is moving forward, he/she only moves backward. Amanda s choice to continue living in the past affects her children. Tom decides to get away from the family just like his father, and Laura is sadly drawn into self-isolation and cannot participate as an active member of society. Even Jim is disappointed that his future hadn t turned out to be what he imagined in his glorious high school days. Although Jim was influenced to enter a world of the past, he is the only character who actually leaves the past behind and returns to reality.