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.
The Wingfield apartment is in the rear of the building, one of those vast hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units that flower as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers of lower middle-class populations and are symptomatic of the impulse of this largest and fundamentally enslaved section of American society to avoid fluidity and differentiation and to exist and function as one interfused mass of automatism. (stage directions, 1.1)
Williams uses a description of the setting to establish the prison-like feel the Wingfield apartment takes on for Tom.
The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these large buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation. The fire escape is part of what we see - that is, the landing of it and steps descending from it. (stage directions, 1.2)
The fire escape attached to the apartment speaks to Tom’s desired escape from the family.
"A blown-up photograph of the father hangs on the wall of the living room, to the left of the archway. It is the face of a very handsome young man in a doughboy's First World War cap. He is gallantly smiling, ineluctably smiling, as if to say "I will be smiling forever." (stage directions, Scene One).
While Tom is at first presented as confined to the Wingfield apartment, his father has already made the escape that Tom will later make (unsuccessfully) himself.