Tom's Final Soliloquy
by Courtney S.
Toms's soliloquies are the heart and soul of Tenessee William's "The Glass Menagerie." The final speech given truly brings the events to a close, as it portrays the shattering of Tom's dreams. The paradox of the final soliloquy to the rest of the play helps sharpen the theme of illusion and reality.
Many of the symbols presented in the imagry of the last soliloquy are the same as the other events, but changed in some way to seem destroyed. The rainbows which served as heralds to dreams so many times during life in the dreary apartment are now shattered, bits in "the lighted window of a shop." The "tiny transparent bottles" of glass summon memories of Laura, substituting for her crystalline zoo. The "something" Tom first speaks of in the beginning of the play is still ever present, but now Tom felt "pursued" by it, like a hunted animal rather then a hopeful soul.
Tom has also contridicted himself. The one person he never wanted to become was his father. Nevertheless, he emulated his life perfectly. Tom too "fell in love with long distances," and left the fire escape. He also destroyed his dream of being a poet. His poetry became his downfall when he was fired from his job for writing on a shoebox. He sought only for escape, but by running he merely trapped himself in a corner. Guilt for what he had done to Laura hounded him, nipping at his heels no matter how many bars and movies he ran to.
The imagry in teh final soliloquy also lacks the references to war and other forms of human oppression. Rather, anture has stepped into teh spotlight. The change in imagry gives a sense of Tom losing all control of his life and fate; he is forced to float on teh breeze. "For nowadays, the world is lit by lightning!" Tom declares. He lost his light of hope when he left Laura, hence the significance of Laura's candles. Cities had become to Tom "like dead leaves" that had been "torn away from the branches." Tom is almost comparing himself to the leaves, as though it were the cruel winds of fate that tore him off the fire escape and alone into the world.
The last soliloquy of "The Glass Menagerie" falls contrary to almost every aspect of teh play, which allows it to project teh running theme of illusion and reality in the lives of the characters all teh better. The change in imagrey shows the destruction of Tom's illusions. in the obliteration of his dreams, Tom becomes the man he hates. The human-inflicted sufferings tied into the rest of the play have given way to impartial nature. Without Laura's candles, everything has fallen apart.