The Glass Menagerie
Surrealism is an early 20th century art movement promoting the idea that the "real world" is within the inner consciousness of the human mind. It stated that art should be built from the full expression of this inner consciousness without any editing. Within this scene of The Glass Menagerie Tennessee Williams used dreams, memories, and surrealism in order to portray the complex relationship between the family members. Scene six involves Tom bringing Jim O'Connor over for dinner at his home.
Tom’s role in The Glass Menagerie—as a character whose memories the play documents and as a character who acts within those memories—underlines the play’s tension between objectively presented dramatic truth and memory’s distortion of truth. Unlike the other characters, Tom sometimes speaks to the audience directly, looking to provide a more detached explanation of what has been occurring onstage. But at the same time, he displays real and sometimes juvenile emotions as he takes part in the play’s action. It shows how the nature of recollection is itself problematic: memory often involves confronting a past in which one was less virtuous than one is now. Because The Glass Menagerie is somewhat autobiographical, and because Tom is a stand-in for the playwright himself (William's given name was Thomas, and he, like Tom, spent part of his youth in St. Louis with an unstable mother and sister, his father not present most of the time), we can apply this remark on the nature of memory to William's memories of his own youth. Tom is full of disagreement. On the one hand, he reads literature, writes poetry, and dreams of escape, adventure, and higher things. On the other, he seems connected to the dirty, petty world of the Wingfield household. All we learn is what he thinks about his mother, his sister, and his warehouse job—the things from which he wants to escape.
Tom’s attitude toward Amanda and Laura is perplexing. Even though he obviously cares for...