Pragmatic criticism has clearly defined expectations of the relationship between the text and the audience. This type of criticism views the work as something that has been created to achieve certain effects on the audience (such as aesthetic pleasure, moral instruction, certain emotions, etc. ) and it judges the work according to whether or not these effects have been achieved. Pragmatic theorists believe the purpose of their text is to teach a lesson that has no end that stays with the audience forever. (Biographical Criticism, 10) Williams uses his characters’ desire of escape to demonstrate the WANT to just get away from our realities… to just never exist as a means of solving all our problems.
His use of symbolism throughout the play just enhances the lesson we learn. It’s easy to escape, but it’s selfish and irresponsible to leave or family, friends, and lives behind. We need to be strong and overcome the weakness within us. The play uses many symbols which represent many different things. Many of the symbols used in the play try to symbolize some form of escape or difference between reality and illusion. He attempts to illustrate what people do to remove themselves from their problems by creating an alternate reality.
Tennessee Williams in “The Glass Menagerie” is trying to send a message that running away is not the way to solve life’s problems. The only escape in life is to face and try to overcome the predicament in order to solve temporary problems that almost always seem permanent. The three main characters who illustrate this need most clearly are Amanda, Laura and Tom. Trapped within the confines of a St.
David The chaos from my teenage sister's birthday party was deafening. Somehow through the noise, I registered that the phone was ringing. Jumping up, my sister answered it in hopes of hearing her boyfriend's voice. A look of concern and confusion crossed her face as she handed me the phone. She mouthed the word 'David' as I placed the receiver to my ear. Immediately I began fighting off a panic I ...
Louis apartment building and the Great Depression, the Wingfield family dreams of escape: budding poet Tom envisions a future on the open seas, his sister Laura retreats from the resent into a fantasy world of glass animals, and matriarch Amanda waltzes through her past with seventeen gentlemen callers from the Mississippi delta of her youth. The first symbol of escape, presented in the first scene, is the fire escape. The play opens with Tom addressing the audience from the fire escape. This entrance into the apartment provides a different purpose for each of the characters.
Overall, it is a symbol of the passage from freedom to being trapped in a life of desperation. The fire escape represents the “bridge” between the illusionary worlds of the Wingfield and the world of reality. This “bridge” seems to be a one-way passage. But the direction varies for each character. The fire escape allows Tom the opportunity to get out of the apartment and away from his nagging mother Amanda and his HANDICAPPED and painfully shy sister Laura.
Tom will stand outside on the fire escape to smoke, showing that he does not like to be inside. (Scene 1, pg. 3) Tom’s habit of going to the movies shows us his longing to leave the apartment and head out into the world of reality. A place where one can find adventure and leave all problems at the door. But Amanda, who criticizes him as being a “selfish dreamer”, keeps him from entering reality. “Every time you come in yelling that Goddamn ‘Rise and Shine! Rise and Shine!’ I say to myself, ‘How lucky dead people are!” But I get up, I go! For sixty five dollars a month I give up all that I dream of doing and being ever! And you say self-self’s all I ever think of.
Why, listen, if self is what I think of, Mother, I’d be where he is-GONE!” (Part 2, Scene 3, pg. 23) Amanda sees the fire escape as an opportunity for gentleman callers to enter their lives. Laura’s view is different from her mother and her brother. Her escape seems to be hiding inside the apartment, not out. Her escape is being confined by the walls that keep her in her house. We can clearly see that each of these characters act in ways many of us act today.
... fire escape; an escape and a refuge. Amanda uses it as an escape; it is the only way a gentlemen caller can come and rescue Laura. ... Laura, it is an escape from the world. She is proven weak when she has to leave the apartment and stumbles. Tom uses it ... in this final passage of Williams' drama. Tom states in his final speech, 'the world is lit by lightning'; (Williams 115). This ...
Sometimes we too, like Tom, would like to get away from it all: the stress and burdens of everyday life are enough to drive one insane. Other times we long for someone to come along and ease our pain much like Amanda feels. And who can forget the times when we wish the world simply would not exist. It is normal to feel such things, however we see that it is truly not healthy to feel like that.
Laura’s glass menagerie is another interesting symbol. Her collection of glass represents her own private world which is set apart from reality, a place where she can hide and be safe… “a world of her own-a world of glass ornaments.” (Part 3, Scene 5, pg. 48) There is nothing wrong with having your own solitude and privacy, but it is selfish and naive to block everybody out of your life. As human beings, we seek love, comfort and guidance.
For us to disown our own blood and turn the cheek to a world that has so much to offer, we are neglecting ourselves of life as we know it. This is just what Laura does. The events that happen to Laura’s glass affect her emotional state greatly. When Amanda tells Laura to practice typing, Laura instead plays with her glass. When Amanda is heard walking up the fire escape, she quickly hides her collection. She does this to hide her secret world from the others.
The breaking of her menagerie is a warning that carries a lesson we all should heed. It warns her that her obsession with privacy is tearing her family apart from its very core. Her brother Tom becomes more and more frustrated and compelled with that uneasy feeling of hopelessness. Her want to escape the reality that lies outside her home is causing the family to live as strangers to one another: people that feel uncomfortable and afraid of being themselves.
Mr. Wingfield, Tom and Laura’s father and husband to Amanda who abandoned them many years ago, is referred to often throughout the story. He is the major symbol of escape. This is because he has managed to remove himself from the desperate situation that the rest of his family is still living in. “Hello-Goodbye!” (Scene 1, pg. 5) was the only thing written on a postcard he had sent from the Pacific Coast of Mexico.
... problems worse. Laura is still a shy, self-dependent and sad girl who fears acceptance and lives in a world of glass animals. Tom though he ... and hurt by Jim. The attempts made to escape a life of avoiding reality fail and Tom, Laura, and Amanda are still trapped. ... live in the present. Amanda, Tom, and Laura Wingfield each escape to avoid the reality of everyday life. Laura is presented to us as ...
It was the last they would ever hear from their “father.” It can be seen that the thing which Tom resents most in his father is exactly what Tom himself will carry out in the end… escape! Through his father, Tom has seen that escape is possible, and though he is hesitant to leave his sister and even his mother behind, he is being driven to it. However, his problems in life are never going to disappear or change. He is still going to have a handicapped sister and lonely mother who longs for him. His leaving the family may only feel as though he is bettering himself, but he is just repressing his reality and trying to form a new reality which consists of one that doesn’t involve the caring of a crippled person or the listening of constant nagging. Escape or no escape, his mother and sister still exist.
Their problems still exist. Their adversity still exists. Running away from it all only haunted him day and night. Tom left but his going away was not the escape that he craved for. The guilt of abandoning Laura was overwhelming for him. He could not seem to get over it.
Everything he saw was a reminder of her. Tom truly followed the footsteps of his father. He realized that leaving was not an escape at all, but a path of even more overwhelming desperation. In the end, no character made a clean break from the situation at hand. The escape theme demonstrated in the fire escape, the glass menagerie and Mr. Wingfield as well as Tom’s departure prove to be a dead end.
In some way or another, everyone has had to escape from something in their lives that they may have felt that they could not or did not want to deal with. Williams is trying to teach us to deal with our problems rather than straying away from them. “The Glass Menagerie” is a play that makes one think about their current situation and wonder if we too are living in our own sort of “glass menagerie” world. This play brings forth the feelings of sorrow, self-pity, and entrapment, which are common feelings that we all have and need to deal with. In many ways, I can relate to the idea of having the want and the need to escape.
But running from the problem will only allow the problem to intensify, making matters worse. Life hands us plenty or fortunate and unfortunate hand of cards to play. We must learn to keep our heads up, our thoughts high and our hearts higher. We need to overcome that which wants to tear us down even if it stems from our inner selves. This play is a true classic and should be remembered as a lesson in life..
Freedom and its Problems: The Life of Neaera (pg. 111) Ancient Greece, the inventor of democracy, philosophy and much of modern western culture and thought, was also the proprietor of the most dehumanizing institution known to mankind, slavery. The excerpt from The Ancient World, Readings in Social and Cultural History, entitled The Life of Neaera, tells the ever so sad story of a slave girl sold ...