D3Pyo - Pyo 1 Sunghyun Pyo English 2 Professor Schamp 8 Jun...

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Pyo 1 Sunghyun Pyo English 2 Professor Schamp 8 Jun 2011 The Reality of Capitalism as a Barrier in Tom’s Escape in The Glass Menagerie The Glass Menagerie written by Tennessee Williams in 1944 is a play that illustrates the life of a lower-middle class family in the late 1930s after the Great Depression. According to the article by Sam Bluefarb at the University of New Mexico, the main characters of this play “do not live in the present but in a past and a future that have never quite effected a coalescence in a livable present” (513). For example, the mother, Amanda Wingfield, “lives in a world that is emotionally bounded by the past,” (Bluefarb 513) while the daughter, Laura Wingfield, retreats herself from the reality with her glass animal figurines (Sarote 142). However, Bluefarb also mentions that among the characters, the one who most severely dreams of “an escape whose vistas point away from Amanda’s past and his own present toward a brighter future” is the son, Tom Wingfield. Throughout the story, his strong desire and fervor to escape is expressed “constantly “in motion” going to the movies and seeking adventure” as well as through various forms of arts such as writing poetry (“Through a Glass Starkly” 211). In literature, this phenomenon is referred to as “escapism.” According to The Oxford American Dictionary of Current English, the definition of the term, “escapism,” is “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from reality, especially in the arts or through fantasy” (“Escapism”). Despite Tom’s several attempts to escape from his reality, Tom “has never really succeeded in running away from the past” and comes back. Therefore, among the characters in The Glass Menagerie , this research
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Pyo 2 paper will specifically analyze and explain Tom’s current life and reality as a lower-middle working class in capitalism, his passion for an escape and symbols that imply the desire, his attempts to execute the escape, and the reason for his failure and the influence of his social class and status within the context of capitalism as a restriction and constraint. Tom’s reality as a shoe warehouse worker represents his life as a working class in the capitalist society. Tom has always been dreaming of an adventurous life. However, since his father abandoned the family years ago, he has been financially taking care of the family such as rent for the Wingfield apartment and the electric bills. In order to take the substantial responsibility of family’s living, he works as a shoe warehouse foreman. Regarding this fact, Bluefarb claims that his father’s leaving and Tom’s present reality as a working class prevents him “from fulfilling itself in a future” for pursuing a life that he wants (516). Though Tom explicitly mentions his desire to escape to Amanda saying that he is “by instinct a love, a hunter,
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This note was uploaded on 06/10/2011 for the course ENGLISH 1 taught by Professor Meyer during the Spring '11 term at UCSB.

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D3Pyo - Pyo 1 Sunghyun Pyo English 2 Professor Schamp 8 Jun...

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