Exploring The Theme Of Escaping From Hardships To Attain Freedom In The Glass Menagerie And The Handmaid’s Tale
The need for freedom to get through a harsh life is a necessity. Freedom is defined as the ability to act, speak, or think freely without any restraint or consequence. Many people have to escape from their current situation in order to achieve their perception of freedom, even if this escape might cause them to face many obstacles and hardships in their life. In the two texts, The Glass Menagerie and The Handmaid’s Tale, the protagonists show the importance of humans to seek freedom, even if severe consequences might be an effect of their quest to freedom. In The Glass Menagerie, a sacrifice of the family was done by the protagonist to achieve her perception of personal freedom. Offred, in The Handmaid’s Tale, chooses to seek freedom, even if she is putting her life at risk. Furthermore, Offred has to make critical decisions in her life to choose between freedom and her loved one, which shows the struggles of gaining freedom. Even though many people in the world take freedom for granted, everyone must learn how they have gained their freedom in the past, and appreciate their current condition, since sacrifice is essential in the process of escaping tyranny. In Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, the characters are constantly seeking escape in their own way from the reality they live in. Tom, the son of Amanda experiences a type of dictatorship and oppression while being raised by his mother. He is unable to express his emotions, and feels very restricted, even though his mother might think that this is what is best for him. Tom is unable to stay at rest from his mother’s ways and instinctively decides to leave his family to pursue personal freedom.
In the text, Tom says, ‘I travelled around a great deal. The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly coloured by torn away from branches. I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something’. Tom describes how he has to continue to walk away from his family in order to achieve the freedom he was lacking. This shows how freedom is an essential need in one’s life, even with its great price. Tom chooses to sacrifice the family that he grew up with all his life since he favours being liberated rather than being in the company of loved ones. Instead of holding on to his role as the family provider for his family, Tom chooses to live in his own mind, where he writes poems and sees movies and sees himself as a free man. Tom’s pursuit of freedom does not only occur with his family but is also seen in his job. Tom says, ‘ I didn’t go to the moon, I went much further- for time is the longest distance between two places. Not long after that, I was fired for writing a poem on the lid of a shoe-box. I left Saint Louis.’ Tom is shown continuously attempting to express himself through poetry but suffers the consequences of freeing his mind by losing his job. As a response to that event, Tom chooses to leave Saint Louis, this again shows the reader how resilient Tom is to confinement. The author sends a message to the reader on how one must leave an area that a person might feel mentally or physically imprisoned in, and to seek freedom no matter the cost. In Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred lives in a dystopia where women are seen as second-class citizens that have the sole purpose of serving men. The Gilead authority does not provide proper living conditions for the women, and they are only seen as a method of reproduction and other duties that men do not want to do. Offred, the protagonist recalls memories of her life before Gilead, where she was free and happily living with her family and child. Since Offred had a taste of freedom previously, she refuses to accept her current condition and tries her best to escape from the tyranny and oppression of Gilead.
Offred attempts to escape from her reality by imagining her past where she lived independently, yet, imagining is not enough to fulfill her need for freedom. Offred aspires to be fully free from her government system, no matter what consequences or barriers she might need to face, which is why it is not a surprise that she puts her life on the line multiple times in attempts to escape Gilead to Canada, where she would be able to live in justice. Even though Offred’s attempts to escape do not succeed primarily, her urge does not get affected, but it would actually increase her will to escape. This shows how even if faced with death, many people would rather live freely, or attempt to achieve liberation rather than living their entire life being circumscribed from it. As Offred’s character develops throughout the novel, she is forced to indulge herself in her current state of life and look for something to make her life more livable. Even though Offred still holds feelings for her former husband, Luke, Offred recognizes the importance of forming a new relationship with Nick, the chauffeur and the Guardian of the Waterford’s. Her connection with Nick holds her back from her pursuit to freedom, as she now has a liability on her hand, which she has to let go off when she escapes Gilead. Her feelings for Nick dampen her need for freedom, as she experiences an alternate feeling of pleasure that she has been unfamiliar with for a long time. Progressively, Nick becomes Offred’s consequence of escaping rather than her help to do so. In the text it says, “the fact is that she no longer want to leave, escape, cross the border to freedom. Is that she wants to be there, with Nick, where shecan get at him.
Offred submits herself to the struggles of gaining liberation and chooses love and affection over freedom and independence. Even though Offred acknowledges that her relationship with Nick could end any moment, her feelings towards him make her life palatable. This shows how many people might fail at overcoming the obstacles of gaining freedom, which is love in this case. This shows the reader how not every person that seeks freedom is able to attain it, since the trials faced in the process could be too difficult for the person, like in the case of Offred. It is human instinct to seek freedom, no matter the cost of it. Humans aim for a lavish life where they are able to raise their children in a safe environment where there is no unjustness and prejudice. The characters in both The Handmaid’s Tale and The Glass Menagerie sought freedom and had to pay the price for it. It seems that even if they died seeking freedom, they would not have regretted it. Even in the occasion where a person is unable to seek freedom, they will do everything in their hand to surround themselves with distractions for them to forget about their essential need of attempting to be free.
- Atwood, Margaret. The Handmaid’s Tale. London: Vintage, 2019. Print.
- Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. Brantford, Ontario: W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library, 2017. Print.
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