Glass Menagerie : The play as a study of escapism

Essay by jeffm53High School, 10th gradeA-, March 2004

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The Glass Menagerie introduced the audience to several characters who each have their own unique way of escaping from reality. Laura, Tom, Amanda and Jim are unable to live in their present life, but instead manage to escape from their lives into fantasy's and illusions. Amanda tries to escape from reality by living in the past and by trying to control her children. Tom, who seeks adventure, escapes from his life by going to the movies night after night and by working on his writing. Even Jim, who represents the "world of reality," is banking his future on public speaking and the television and radio industries. Laura's escape from reality is by far the most evident in the play; Laura focuses on her glass menagerie so that everything in her eyes seems to become perfect. Amanda, Tom ,Laura and Jim have different methods to escape life. All three characters are similar in the way that they need to escape from reality and from each other.

Although seeking a glass menagerie collection might seem like an odd way to escape reality, this is exactly what Laura does in the play.

At the beginning of the play, Laura is almost completely overcome by her illusions. She is terrified to face the real world; she escapes reality by hiding behind her glass menagerie. Laura feels out of place, as weird as the little glass unicorn. As Jim points out, unicorns are "extinct" in modern times and are lonesome as a result of being different from other horses. Laura too is unusual, lonely, and ill adapted to existence in the world in which she lives. She is painfully shy and cannot cope with the pressures of the outside world. Laura would much rather stay at home and escape in her world of tiny glass...