The stage directions in the beginning of the first scene of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie set the stage for the whole play. The audience is made to peer into the hapless lives of the play’s three main characters, living in a dim apartment adjacent to and among thousands of like structures, accentuating the dullness of living in such an environment. The feeling of being throttled in this lower class “conglomeration” during the Depression era is made palpable.
The apartment must look cramped, with the living room sofa, which also serves as Laura’s bed, placed very close to the dining area, which leaves really no privacy for Laura, who also gets smothered by Amanda’s high expectations of her.
At the flanks of the Wingfield apartment are alleys lavished with the mess of clotheslines, garbage cans and fire escapes. The fire escape is especially the favourite spot of Tom to smoke and recite his narrations in, which also represents the metaphor of him wanting to escape from his mother’s nagging, as well as Amanda’s desperate desire to go back to her gentile and romantic past.