What is the lesson of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams?

The lesson of The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams is the necessity of living in the real world without illusions. Amanda and Laura, for different reasons, hide from the world and its many problems. It's up to Tom to face up to the harsh reality of life in the real world, no matter how difficult that may be. And this can only be done by leaving his mother and sister and making his own way in this world.

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The lesson to be learned in this great play is that the only thing to which one should be tethered is the present. Tethering oneself to an illusion or to material objects, as Laura does, can only lead to disappointment. Laura's mother, Amanda, makes the same mistake in pinning her hopes to the idea of Laura's future with Jim O'Connor.

There is no doubt that Tom has his sister's best interests at heart when he invites Jim, her former high-school crush, over for dinner. Jim, unbeknownst to him, is seriously involved with another woman. This, however, does not stop Jim from toying with Laura's emotions, dancing with her, and kissing her. Had Tom focused on the present rather than dragging up this figure from the past, Laura would not have been hurt.

Then, we need to look at Laura's fixation with her glass menagerie. She is very upset when Tom accidentally breaks one of her figurines, but she would not have felt this pain were it not for her unhealthy fixation with the figurines.


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