In The Sound and the Fury it is much less clear, but to the ascertainable eye it can be analyzed.

This story is about three brothers and a sister. It is filled with escapism examples primarily in Caddy's behaviors and actions. Caddy becomes promiscuous which is a form of escapism. She is otherwise taking care of her brother, including the one who is mentally disabled and unable to understand time or morality. She can escape into promiscuity and during those times become whoever or whatever she desires.

This story has escapism at every turn. Mr. Compson is a drunk who escapes his dysfunctional family problems in a bottle. His wife has her own form of escapism because of her constant dwelling on her imagined and perceived illnesses. All of these are emotional forms of escapism, however there are also clear cut examples of physical escapism as well. One example of this is when Caddy marries a man she does not love to escape the family problems caused by her pregnancy. She refuses to name the father. Her brother attempts to convince their dad that he and his sister committed incest and created the child. This in itself underscores the extreme dysfunction that is witnessed in this family dynamic.

Quentin displays the ultimate form of escapism when he drowns himself because he cannot deal with the fact that Caddy sinned and became pregnant. This alone screams dysfunction, when a brother commits suicide over his sister becoming pregnant. This is to enmeshed to be a normal but it is easily explained because of the family dynamic and dysfunction.

Quentin used his family name and history to escape for many years. He dwelled on the past, and the importance that his family name used to carry. He lives only to serve that name, which is how his sister's shameful pregnancy impacted him so personally.

"Many readers have traced the failure of the Compson children to the coldness and remoteness of Mrs. Compson, whom Lee Jenkins compares to "a malignant force that stifles life at its source, the very antithesis of mothering" (144). Jenkins writes: "One must look to the limitations of Mrs. Compson as the underlying cause of the distorted and arrested development of the Compson children. Cold, self-centered, unloving, and hypocritical, she uses all those around her to satisfy her hypochondriacal needs and paralyzes and corrupts normal family relations" (144). Yet, if Caroline Compson, like the figure of Mrs. Bland whom Quentin later meets in Boston, is, in Jenkins's phrase, a "travesty of true motherly solicitation," she is also, in Canetti's terms, one who practices "the domestication of the command" that controls all master-slave, human-animal, and mother-child relationships. In each of these relationships, "a creature which is subject to another habitually receives its food only from that other." As Canetti explains, "a close link grows up between commands and the giving of food.... Domesticating the command means linking it with a promise of food" (Crowds 307) (Folks, 2002)."


Each of the works is clearly about dysfunctional families. Each family has cut itself off from the world in some way or another because of its constant self absorption. There are several similarities as well as differences in the two stories relating to family dysfunction and family dynamic. The characters in the Glass Menagerie are completely different than the characters in Sound and the Fury but they all have dysfunction and family dynamic issues as common denominators.

In TGM, the dysfunction is anger at what could be and what they believe should be compared to what actually is. In Sand F. The anger is directed at what used to be and how it is no longer.

The escapism is obvious in the S. And F. By the family refusal to let the past go and live in the present. The fact that the family name is no longer as important as it once was creates tension in the family dynamic as several members try and hold on to the past. The escapism that is displayed throughout the story, both physically and emotionally/mentally creates a setting for family dysfunction that is evidenced by the family reaction to Caddy's pregnancy. Quentin's suicide and the family reaction to that event all underscore the dysfunctional nature of the family to begin with.

It can be argued that the pregnancy itself was a form of escapism. Caddy wanted to escape her responsibilities for her brothers left to her by her absent and selfish mother, so she got pregnant to do so. This is not an uncommon theme in real life and in the story it plays into the entire family dysfunction.

In the Glass Menagerie, escapism is also evident both physically and emotionally/mentally. The eventual escape by Tom is physical but there are many examples of emotional and mental escaping as well.

Each family is impacted differently by the escapism and the family dynamic. In TGM the family dysfunction drives the family members apart and causes tremendous anger at each other, while in S. And Fury the dysfunction only serves to cause more obsession with Caddy and her issues.

These two works of literature are examples of family dysfunction and how it can impact people differently. The members of the family react to each other very differently even though they seem to have about equal levels of dysfunction. An interesting study would be whether having a father in the family made the difference to the way the family dynamic reacted to the escapism.

The escapism in each work is handled differently. For TGM it is about escaping each other, while in S. And F. It is about escaping a family name and southern tradition of pride.

The reactions of the family members to each other have as much to do with their individual places as with how they are raised. Escapism is used in ways that are also tied to their places in the family. The family dynamics are not changed by emotional escapism but are definitely impacted by the physical acts of escapism.


Bloom, Harold, ed. Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie. Modern Critical Interpretations. New York: Chelsea, 1988.

Corrigan, Mary Ann. "Beyond Verisimilitude: Echoes of Expressionism in Williams' Plays." Tennessee Williams: A Tribute. Ed. Jac Tharpe. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1977. 375-412.

Crowd and self: William Faulkner's sources of agency in The Sound and the Fury.(Critical Essay)

The Southern Literary Journal; 3/22/2002; Folks, Jeffrey J

Crowd and self: William Faulkner's sources of agency in The Sound and the Fury.(Critical Essay)

The Southern Literary Journal; 3/22/2002; Folks, Jeffrey J.

Debusscher, Gilbert. Tennessee Williams: The Glass Menagerie. York Notes. London: Longman, 1982.

Durham, Frank. "Tennessee Williams, Theatre Poet in Prose." Bloom 59-73.

Elwood, William R. "Kaiser's Von Morgens bis Mitternachts as a Metaphor for Chaos." The Many Forms of Drama. Ed. Karelisa V. Hartigan. The University of Florida Department of Classics Comparative Drama Conference Papers 5. Lanham: UP of America, 1985. 31-39.

EPA, "Menagerie" & "Carol." (Equity Stage).

Back Stage; 7/26/2002

Missing think: programming begins reflecting society, rather than offering an escape from it.(1970s), Hollywood Reporter; 9/11/2004

Tennessee Williams's Tom Wingfield and Georg Kaiser's cashier: a contextual comparison. Papers on Language & Literature; 6/22/1998; Fordyce, William

Tennessee Williams: a Southern writer.(Special Issue: Tennessee Williams)

The Mississippi Quarterly; September 22, 1995; King, Kimball

Works of Tennessee Williams:…