Tom as a Man of Imagination in The Glass Menagerie

The problem of hesitation to cross a threshold is basic to the play The Glass Menagerie. In this play Tom Wingfield is afflicted with an anxiety to cross the threshold between adolescence and youth, dependence and independence. Tom was on the brink of losing his adolescence and entering a new phase of youth. Thus, this time was extremely important for it. Moreover, it was a time of transition.


Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

So, it was natural for Tom Wingfield to quarrel with those who can't understand the nature of his problem. He was so irritated by his mother's frequent nagging that he called her a witch in a moment of irritation. His imminent transition from adolescence to youth represents the change in his taste also. Tom is a poet. He is eager to write poetry. His life in confinement has handicapped him to write poetry. He feels that his work in the Warehouse Company has created an extreme dissatisfaction in him. Oppressed by the cruelty of home and monotonous work, he wanted to run away from the responsibility and duty. Here one question arise - why did Tom Wingfield fail to grapple the dreary reality and sterile life courageously. The cogent and convincing answer to this question is that Tom Wingfield is a man of imagination. He has been gifted with an imaginative cast of mind. In his mind the faculty of imagination functioned more effectively than the faculty of reason. But that does not mean Tom's mind was devoid of reason. Reason was there. But it was less effective in comparison to the power of imagination.

When the faculty of imagination gained an upper hand in his mind, he quarreled with his mother and went away from his mother and sister. His movement toward adventure can be interpreted as a movement toward independence. It is a kind of flight from reality and private and public responsibility.

But when he was in a long distance from his house he was pulled back from the path of adventure by his real love for his mother and daughter. Tom's return to his house on the strength of love offers lots of social implications. His return to his house is a return to the socially established norms and values. His return is a real return to the standard of practical thinking. Only a man of imagination is capable of returning to reality with a better insight and with a higher level of awakening.

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