Notes on The Glass Menagerie Themes

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The Glass Menagerie Topic Tracking: Escape

Part 1, Scene 1

Escape 1: Escape is a very real aspect of the Wingfield family. The first escapee was Mr. Wingfield, the gentleman in the photograph. He left his family sixteen years ago and has only sent one message to them since then. He made his escape, as Tom does by going to the movies, as Laura does through her glass menagerie and the music from the Victrola, and as Amanda does through her memories of Blue Mountain. The reality of their lives is too depressing and mundane, so each finds a way to escape.

Part 1, Scene 2

Escape 2: Amanda is searching desperately for some way to save her daughter from becoming a dependent old maid. Amanda knows that this kind of life is lonely and miserable, and she tries to give Laura the means to escape this fate by having her take typing classes so that she may later support herself. Laura drops out of the class, and Amanda has to find another escape route for her daughter; her ambitions turn to finding a male suitor for her daughter.

Part 2, Scene 3

Escape 3: Tom goes to the movies to escape the drab life he leads as a warehouse worker living with his mother and sister. He hates his life and feels trapped. He gets no recognition or appreciation from Amanda for the sacrifices he feels he makes to support the family. He could choose to abandon them like his father had, and find the adventure he lusts after.

Part 2, Scene 4

Escape 4: After seeing Malvolio the Magician escape from a coffin without removing a nail, Tom is very impressed, and he believes it parallels his situation at home. He has to find some way to escape without destroying his family the way his father had sixteen years ago. Tom's job at the warehouse pays the rent and the bills; since his father left, he was forced to provide for his mother and sister. Tom cannot escape the coffin without removing a nail, until there is someone to take his place. Thus, he is also interested in finding a suitor for Laura, although he is more realistic that his mother.

Escape 5: Amanda demands an explanation of why Tom spends so much time at the movies, and he tells her that it's because he seeks adventure. The movies are his escape from the mundane reality of his warehouse job and his mousetrap apartment.

Escape 6: Amanda mentions the letter Tom receives from the Merchant Marines. His plans for escape are exposed to the audience. What could be more adventurous than to sail far away with the Merchant Marines?

Part 3, Scene 5

Escape 7: Tom calls to Amanda's attention that it isn't normal for a girl to live wrapped up in a world of glass ornaments without human interaction. The glass menagerie is Laura's escape from the harshness of reality. Her disability and lack of confidence has led to an intense shyness. Her escape isolates her even further from society; she dotes over the glass ornaments to avoid interaction with others.

Part 3, Scene 6

Escape 8: Laura tries to avoid answering the door, but Amanda insists that she must do it. In order to make it through the trauma of opening the door for her brother and his guest, Laura plays the Victrola to ease her anxiety.

Escape 9: Tom is going to make his escape to the Merchant Marines. He's already joined and now just has to find the right time to break away; he knows he has to leave soon. Life is too short to be trapped in such a mundane existence.

Escape 10: Laura escaped from the horror of having dinner with her high school crush because she felt too afraid to face him. Instead of sitting at the table, she leaves for the living room sofa, feigning sickness.

Part 4, Scene 7

Escape 11: Tom finally escapes and joins the Merchant Marines, but even his escape doesn't save him. He's constantly haunted by the sad memory of his lonely sister, and everywhere he goes, her image stays with him; although he escaped the apartment, he didn't really get away from her memory.

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