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The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams
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What is the symbolism of movies in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams?

The movies are a way for the main character, Tom, to escape from his boring life. They allow him to envision himself in various more exciting roles, but he also knows that that's all the films are: escapism that does not provide real fulfillment. He knows that eventually, he will need to go back to everyday life and leave the fantasies of the movie theater.

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In The Glass Menagerie, Tom lives a relatively boring life. His job at a shoe factory is tedious and doesn't pay well, and at home, his mother constantly nags him. He is his family's only provider, but he dreams of becoming a poet. With almost everything in his life so disappointing, he often goes to the movies to escape. By doing so, he hopes to immerse himself in the adventures of the stars on the screen. The films symbolize escapism and are a way for Tom to imagine all the ways his life could be more exciting. He dreams for a life full of adventure and romance.

However, Tom understands that the movies do not provide real fulfillment. He laments that Hollywood stars have adventures on the screen, but Americans sit in dark rooms to vicariously live through those escapades. He thinks it would be better for people to take active steps to take exciting chances and better their own lives. Every time Tom goes to the movies, he knows he has to leave the theater eventually and return to his own boring life. Williams might be hinting that movies offer too much escapism; people turn to them as a way to feel better about their lives for a short time, but they are not a substitute for true fulfillment.

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