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Tennesse Williams' The Glass Menagerie

In Tennessee Williams' classic American play The Glass Menagerie, the main characters all struggle to deal with the disappointing realities of their lives. Indeed, Laura, Tom, and Amanda Wingfield all turn to comfortable illusions in order to combat the loneliness and desperations of their daily lives. Thus, this conflict between reality and illusion becomes the central theme of Williams' play, as he uses his characters to depict the way in which one can use fantasy to escape an unpleasant reality.

Of three main characters in the play, it would seem that Laura Wingfield has the most difficulty accepting the reality of her life. She chooses to inhabit a world of her own making because she is handicapped, both physically and emotionally. Laura not only must wear a leg brace, and because she is terribly shy, she is emotionally cut off from other people as well. Instead, she turns to her collection of glass animals and essentially constructs a private world for herself in order to insulate herself from reality. Her mother believes that Laura's only hope is to get married, but her only perspective suitor is a boy that she had a crush on in high school, further highlighting Laura's inability to function as part of the real world.

Furthermore, Laura pretends to attend classes at the business college where her mother signed her up, while she actually spends the days walking around the city. There is a distinct breakdown between Laura's reality and the illusions that she has created to protect herself. She is unable to face the inevitable disappointment that her mother will feel when she discovers that Laura has not been attending college, so Laura instead turns to an illusion that is far more preferable than reality. Indeed, Laura seems incapable of truly becoming part of the real world.

Laura's brother Tom also turns to illusion to escape the reality of his dysfunctional family, despite the fact that he h...

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Tennesse Williams' The Glass Menagerie. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:40, May 20, 2019, from