Study Guide

The Glass Menagerie Freedom and Confinement

By Tennessee Williams

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Freedom and Confinement

In The Glass Menagerie, Tom feels confinement from being stuck in an uninspiring job, cramped into a small apartment with his family, and unable to see the world or have adventures. Amanda is similarly confined to her thoughts of the past, and Laura traps herself in a world of glass animals. Escape can mean two things here: escape from reality into an alternate world, or escape from a trap or confinement. This play hints at the moral ramifications of some kinds of escape, asking the question of who is left behind and what happens to them when you leave.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. Tom talks about getting out of a coffin without removing a nail, which we're pretty sure says something about disrupting his environment by leaving. What is the effect of his leaving, exactly? Did good ol' Tennessee totally rip us off by not letting us see what happened?
  2. What is Tom trying to escape from? What exactly is it about his life that bothers him so much?
  3. Does Tom really escape at the end?
  4. Do you totally love the fire escape thing? Because we do. What does it do for the play? We get the escape part - but where's the fire?

Chew on This

Tom is a selfish character because of his desire to escape his responsibilities to his family.

Although Tom seeks to escape his life and job at the warehouse, he neither desires nor is able to escape his family.

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