Essay/Term paper: Symbolism in the glass menagerie
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Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie uses an extensive pattern of symbolism that describes the characters of
Tom,Amanda,Laura and Jim.Glass,light,color and music constitute the substance of the dominant
symbols and motifs,serving to reveal deeper aspects of characters and underlying themes of the
play.Tennessee Williams wrote the play so that each character had a special symbol which resembled
their personality.But he didn't only give the characters of the play a a resembling symbol;he also
mentions the apartment blocks to be hivelike conglomerations of cellular living-units resembling a
beenstock.The way he describes their location also has a lot of symbolism in its roots because he
describes them to be flowering as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers.
Tennessee Williams used many symbolic aspects to describe Laura and the world she lives
in.In the play,Laura represents the very fragile,shy and emotionally crippled girl.In her mind she lives
in a world of glass animals and doesn't have a connection to the real world.The managerie of glass also
represents the fragile relationships among all the characters.The glass unicorn is most obviously a
symbol of Laura--delicate,sadly different,an anomaly in the modern world.The glass motif recurs
throughout the whole play in many other forms.When Laura dropped out of college she constantly
visited the zoo,a glass house of tropical flowers that are as vulnerable as she is.During Laura's and
Jim's brief romantic encounter,Laura is gaining more confidence about herself.It seems as if she is
starting to escape her
world of illusions.When they started dancing together,Jim accidently knocked the little glass horse
over.Laura,who usually worships her glass collection more than anything else,replied to his
excuse;"He's lost his horn.It doesn't matter.Maybe it's a blessing in disguise." and "I'll just imagine he
had an operation.The horn was removed to make him feel less--freakish!Now he will feel more at
home with the other horses,the ones who don't have horns....".These two quotes give an impression
that Laura is finally escaping her illusive world.She thinks that she might have a chance to survive the
real world.What she doesn't know is that she is about to be wounded by the news of Jim's
engagement.After Jim tells her the news,she gives him the unicorn as a souvenir and retreats into her
land of the glass menagerie never to come out again.
In the play,Tom is the adventure seeking man trying to escape the prison Amanda is keeping
him trapped in.To escape the real world,Tom constantly goes to the movies.The movies make him
think about all the adventures he missing.It his little land of dreams.He is jealous of his father who left
his family and achieved what Tom always wanted, "Freedom".Tom has never been comfortable with
the way his mother treated him.She always disagreed with the way Tom behaved.When Amanda put
him down after Jim left,saying that he didn't even know that his friend was engaged and that Jim broke
Laura's heart,Tom finally had enough.He took the money that was meant to pay for the electric bill,left
the family and finally pursued his dream of adventure.Still,when he crosses by a window with little
perfume bottles made of glass or other small things made of this material,he thinks of Laura.
Amanda,who is the domineering parent of Tom and Laura,lives in a fantasy world in which
she was a young beautiful girl,living in an area called Blue Mountain.She always told Laura and Tom
about the many gentleman callers she received every day.Sometimes there were as many as seventeen
a day,all prominent men on the Mississippi Delta.To make some extra money she sells The
Homemaker's Companion that features the serialized sublimations of ladies of letters who think in
terms of delicate cuplike breasts,slim,tapering waists ,and rich and creamy thighs.Those are all parts of
her fantasy world which make her think back to the time when she was a young and beautiful girl.She
also is the domineering parent in the family.She treats Tom very harsh sometimes.She does that
because she is scared that she is going to lose her children just like she did her husband.
Jim is the most realistic character in the play.He is didn't live in any fantasy world like Tom
and his family did.When he talked to Laura after they had dinner,he tried to make her more
comfortable because he felt that Laura was very shy.He showed Laura how superior he is in order to
impress her.For example,he said,"Look how big my shadow is when I stretch."He wanted to show
Laura how manly he is.Jim's nickname for Laura ,Blue Roses,suggests a phenomenon that is contrary
to nature.Blue also means sad.
The symbolism in the play The Glass Menagerie made the story much more interesting.It gave
the play a special point which made it more interesting to read.Tenessee Williams used a wide range of
symbolic aspects to describe Laura,Amanda,Jim,and Tom who are four out of the five characters in the
play.Symbolism is sometimes very important in plays,stories,etc. because it tells us about the secrets
which are hidden inside.
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Essay on the Symbolism of the Menagerie in The Glass Menagerie
1002 Words5 Pages
The Symbolism of the Menagerie in The Glass Menagerie
Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, describes three separate characters, their dreams, and the harsh realities they face in a modern world. The Glass Menagerie exposes the lost dreams of a southern family and their desperate struggle to escape reality. Williams' use of symbols adds depth to the play. The glass menagerie itself is a symbol Williams uses to represent the broken lives of Amanda, Laura and Tom Wingfield and their inability to live in the present.
The glass menagerie symbolizes Amanda Wingfield's overwhelming need to cling to her past and her fulfilled fear of being alone. Amanda resents the poverty-stricken neighborhood in which she lives so…show more content…
Tom ends the argument by calling Amanda an "ugly- babbling old -witch"(Williams 1875), and struggles to put his coat on, intent on leaving. When he cannot put the coat on properly, he becomes frustrated with his clumsiness and flings it across the room, breaking some of the glass collection. Laura "cries out as if wounded"(Williams 1875). This shows how fragile Laura really is and how she reacts when even the small balance of her apartment is shifted. The most prominent use of this symbol comes at the crisis of the story, when Jim is left alone with Laura. The conversation turns to Laura's glass collection, when she remarks "glass is something you have to take good care of."(Williams 1900), again showing her fragility. More parallels are drawn between Laura and the glass collection with the introduction of the unicorn. Jim says, "Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome"(Williams 1902) to which Laura replies, " He stays on a shelf with some horses that don't have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together"(Williams 1902). The unicorn becomes a symbol for Laura because just like the unicorn she is different. When Jim and Laura dance, and Jim accidentally knocks the unicorn off the table and its horn is broken off, it loses its uniqueness. Similarly, when Jim kisses Laura and then shatters her hopes by telling