The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Scene.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a big long monologue.
"Yes, movies! Look at them—[a wave toward the marvels of Grand Avenue]. All of those glamorous people—having adventures—hogging it all, gobbling the whole thing up! You know what happens? People go to the movies instead of moving! Hollywood characters are supposed to have all the adventures for everybody in America, while everybody in America sits in a dark room and watches them have them! Yes, until there’s a war. That’s when adventure becomes available to the masses! Everyone’s dish, not only Gable’s! Then the people in the dark room come out of the dark room to have some adventures themselves—goody, goody! It’s our turn now, to go to the South Sea Island—to make a safari—to be exotic, far off! But I’m not patient. I don’t want to wait till then. I’m tired of the movies and I am about to move! (6.114, Tom).
Tom is so dissatisfied at his confinement that he would even prefer war to staying at home.
"I’m starting to boil inside. I know I seem dreamy, but inside—well, I’m boiling! Whenever I pick up a shoe, I shudder a little thinking how short life is and what am I doing! Whatever that means, I know it doesn’t mean shoes—except as something to wear on a traveler’s feet!" (6.120, Tom).
Tom describes his desire to escape in a way that makes him sound a victim helpless to his impulses, rather than a conscious, decision-making adult.
Tom smashes his glass on the floor. He plunges out on the fire escape, slamming the door. Laura screams in fright. The dance-hall music becomes louder. Tom stands on the fire escape, gripping the rail. The moon breaks through the storm clouds, illuminating his face. (Scene Seven, stage directions.)
Tom spends a lot of time on the fire escape, foreshadowing his eventual departure.