Escape To Freedom
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The Glass Menagerie
Escape to freedom, a theme that drives the story in The Glass Menagerie. There are several objects in the story that symbolize escape. For instance, the fire escape that Tom Wingfield spends most of his time in or around fore shadows his “escape” from his family. The movie theatre that Tom visits every day is a symbol of escape. The picture of the father hanging in the living room is a big symbol of escape. Very carefully placed symbols all around the dialogue in this piece give clear understanding of the characters intentions. Its not just Tom that wants escape from his coffin of a house, for his mother, Amanda, and his sister, Laura, also want escape. However, Amanda more so than Laura wants an escape that she cannot achieve herself, but she believes in her Laura to escape for her. The theme of escape is widely referenced in The Glass Menagerie.

The only way in or out of the Wingfield house is a fire escape, in which Tom frequents many times during the play. Even the play starts with a mention of this fire escape. “Tom enters, dressed as a merchant sailor, and strolls across to the fire escape. There he stops and lights a cigarette” (Williams, 1449). The fire escape here is how he starts. Usually the only time one uses a fire escape is to get away from something dangerous. Yet that is the only way into this house, perhaps the author is saying something about the situation inside the fire escape. The play starts with an entrance into the apartment through the fire escape, and ends with an exit from the dangerous house through that same fire escape. “Tom smashes his glass on the floor. He plungesout of the fire escape, slamming the door. Laura screams in fright. The dance-hall music becomes louder. Tom stands in the fire escape, gripping the rail” (Williams, 1492). For Tom the fire escape is his portal to the free world, and his last exit truly signifies his permanent escape.

The picture of the fatherly figure on the wall acts as a reminder of the man who escaped, also the man that Tom is to emulate eventually. This menacing shot of a grinning man stares at Tom whenever he walks by. It has been up there for the last sixteen years, and the fact that the family hasnt removed it at all is somewhat ponderous. Could it be that this symbolizes an idol of some sort to every member of the family? They realize that he is free but they still are not. A parallel of such a hung picture would be if someone hung a picture of Hawaii on their wall, because they want to picture themselves free and in Hawaii.

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Picture Of The Father And Tom Wingfield. (June 14, 2021). Retrieved from