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Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie From the beginning the figure of the narrator shows that Williams play will not follow the conventions of realistic theater The narrator breaks the conceptual fourth wall of naturalistic drama by addressing the audience directly Tom also tells us that he is going to give the audience truth disguised as illusion making the audience conscious of the illusory quality of theater By playing with the theme of memory and its distortions Williams is free to use music monologues and projected images to haunting effect Tom as narrator tells the audience that the gentleman caller is a real personltmore real in many ways than any other characterltbut he also tells the audience that the gentleman is a symbol for the expected something that we live for the thing for which we are always waiting and hoping This naming of a character as both real entity and symbol is characteristic of Williams work both of these aspects of the gentleman caller are important to the overall impact of the Play The allusion to Guernica and the turmoil in Spain juxtaposed to the uneasy peace in America establishes a tense atmosphere as the plays background There is symmetry between the uneasy peace of the time period and the uneasy peace in the Wingfield house Just as America stirs restlessly with the uneasy peace before the Second World War Tom seethes with the need to escape his home and set out into the worldltas his father did before him The fire escape a visually prominent part of the set is an important symbol for the imprisonment that Tom feels and the possibility of a way out In his stage directions Williams characteristically imbues the fire escape with symbolic weight saying that the buildings are burning with the implacable fires of human desperation Tom addresses the audience from the fire escape and his positioning there standing alone between the outside world and the space of
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