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The Glass Menagerie
"The Glass Menagerie" is set in the apartment of the Wingfield family. By description, it is a cramped, dingy place, not unlike a jail cell. It is one of many such apartments in the neighborhood. Of the Wingfield family members, none of them want to live there. Poverty is what traps them in their humble abode. The escape from this lifestyle, this apartment and these relationships is a significant theme throughout the play. These escapes may be related to the fire escape, the dance hall, the absent Mr. Wingfield and Tom's inevitable departure.
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 allows Tom the opportunity to get out of the apartment and away from his nagging mother. 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. The fire escape separates reality and the unknown.
Across the street from the Wingfield apartment is the Paradise Dance Hall. Just the name of the place is a total anomaly in the story. Life with the Wingfields is as far from paradise as it could possibly be. Laura appears to find solace in playing the same records over and over again, day after day. Per...