Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

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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...
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