“The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams shows the struggle of two people to fit into society, Tom and Laura, and how society wouldn’t accept them. They were the dreamers that were unjustly kept out and you may even go as far as to say persecuted into staying out and aloof like the other dreamers which are forced to become outcasts and not contribute to the actions of all.

Tom and Laura, the two dreamers, were pushed by their mom, Amanda, to her frame of mind and the thoughts of a hard working society. They both stumbled on the fire escape which served as a gateway, physically and mentally. Tom had the problem of fitting in at the warehouse were he worked, because is the warehouse really a place for someone like him and his mind rebelled. Lastly you can see how society forced them to change and Laura to lose her status in order to fit in with Jim and that’s shown by the horn breaking. Tom then realizes that and leaves which causes him to change too. Tennessee Williams artfully depicted this.

The fire escape. A downtrodden red thing off the sides of buildings showing societies ineffectual escape from itself. In this case it served as a passageway between the real world and the dream one that Laura and Tom were living in at home. Both somehow stumbled both physically and mentally. When Laura said “I’m all right. I slipped but I’m all right”(47). She was trying to pass to the real world to do a real job and couldn’t because of societies “inability” to accept her and her ways. She wasn’t strong enough to make the trip by herself, but needed the moral support of the other dreamer in the area, which was Tom who came running out. Tom is the one who stumbles mentally in his inability to look at the escape, which would be his way out of the place. He was always losing his strength while out there smoking and looking out into the world. Recognizing the sounds and trying to connect but unable to. He was forced away and unable to bring up the strength inside himself to go out and leave and to stay strong as a dreamer. Forced by society to use it as a gateway instead of just keeping it the same and just a mode of transportation to go down.

Every night you hear Tom say, “I’m going to the movies” (42). He uses that as an escape of the imagination which is what made him a dreamer. As long as he went to the movies and stayed away from seeing and experiencing he could still dream. He wants to see them in person and adventure out but that would be what society wants him to do. Tom is probably content or made to seem content with the movies and sees his impending doom in being a dreamer so he becomes obsessed with trying to escape it. With “Yes, Movies! Look….. I’m tired of movies and I’m about to move”(79). Tom tells Jim of his plans to leave and see what he needs to, but Jim cannot realize the scope of the problem.

In the warehouse, for Tom and the school for Laura were the places in which dreamers do not fit in. Everyone is thinking of advancing themselves and the “American Dream” in the same breath. Tom was in the warehouse and it wasn’t a place for him. He attempted to rein in his wishes but was unable to do it. He still had to sneak off and write poems to show his thoughts. “He knew of …. on poems”(68), Was what Tom was saying towards Jim. Jim was one who didn’t care of what others did but just wanted to become one of the people who could fulfill the “American dream”. Laura, like tom snuck off to hiding places to dream and remember what it was like. Instead of going to the business school she snuck off to the menagerie and the museum, both places where dreaming is recommended, the only sanctuary for them in society. She, like Tom was living in a dream but was unable to be as focused as he was so she “Went to the art museum…..the tropical flowers”(33), showing she had to back up her strength by skipping a killer of dreamers for one that strengthens her resolve but it is shown to be not enough and changes.

When Jim broke the horn on the unicorn showed the change of Laura from being the unicorn to a normal horse who can fit in. Since Tom was so close he felt the break and the fact that another dreamer had been changed by the rules of society and could not stand away any more. Jim had brought Laura over to his way of thinking and that of the American society. In “Make him feel less—freakish!, Now he will feel more at home with the other horses, the ones that don’t have horns…”(104). Laura was that horse and felt freakish in her actions and wanted to fit in with the other horses. That’s the meaning of that speech. she was broken to the American dream and then Tom felt that his ground was being invaded and got defensive. He soon left upon realizing that he was changing to Amanda’s way of thinking, so he left. upon his leaving he lost his dreaming ability anyway. It was ironic how he no longer dreamed because he felt he was seeing the dreams in real life, as society had again forced him out.

As you can see Tom and Laura were dreamers which were unaccepted into society. Laura lost her dreaming when the unicorn lost its horn and tom then lost his upon doing the first thing he had dreamed about because he stayed that way and didn’t dream about going any higher. Ultimately Tennessee Williams message was that society was rigid and it forced those which did not fit the mold to change into a from which was acceptable. That we killed the dreamers and are still doing it at an even younger age. We have to Accept them with open arms if ever we are able to make it far into the future and survive.

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William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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