The Glass Menagerie Symbolism

Good Essays
A Menagerie of Broken Dreams Broken glass, unfulfilled fantasies, and a family of lackluster people striving for a better life. “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams is a play in which the main character Tom relives the days lead up to him leaving his family. Williams uses a collection of glass animal figures, called a glass menagerie, as a symbol for a multitude of elements and characters. The menagerie represents each individual character in the family and the family as a whole while representing plot progression and the aspirations of the family. The glass menagerie is the most important element in the play. A menagerie is described as a collection of animals in captivity or a strange collection of people or items; this describes…show more content…
The glass part of the menagerie represents the weaknesses that each character has. Tom’s thrust for adventure is the glass part of him, his Achilles heel. It causes him to lose his job in the play, go out to the movies, drink, and eventually to break his bonds and leave the family. Laura’s weakness is her crippled leg and her shyness. Laura’s shyness makes her drop out of typing school, and in social situations, she is self-conscious about her crippled leg. She is able to forget about these draw backs for a moment and overcome them when Jim treats her like a normal women. Amanda’s weakness however are the mistakes that haunt her and sadly she never overcomes them. The glass is also seen as the goal that they reach for since they all wish to shine like glass. Glass is seen to most as being pure and sparkling while the family is obviously not, but each tries to become pure by fulfilling their desires. Sadly their dreams are also fragile since in the process of achieving them, they break their dreams. Laura tries to be normal and believes she can with Jim but her dream is dashed away when he reveals that he is engaged (Williams 971: 7). Amanda tries to live vicariously through her children but ends up breaking Laura’s heart and driving Tom away. Tom however tries to run away and find adventure but ironically ends up like his mother, being haunted by his past mistake of abandoning Laura (Williams 975:…show more content…
Both times it symbolizes something important to the plot; it represents the breaking apart of the family. The first time the menagerie was broken because of the fight that Tom and Amanda were having and the bad blood that was forming because of it. The second was when Jim was leading Laura on. The family was being broken apart since a fight between Amanda and Tom was not long behind the breaking of the menagerie and since Jim broke the figure it foreshadowed the fight being about Jim being Engage. This lead to Tom leaving soon after. The breaking of the glass also symbolizes the shattering of Tom and Laura’s dreams. The first break was the foreshadowing of Tom’s dream of travel since it shows the connection that he has to his sister. It was obvious that the relationship was too strong for Tom to just leave and not regret it. The second was obviously Laura learning about Jim and being let down. Amanda’s dreams are shattered with both times since her dream is to make her children happy even if she tries to do this by living through
Get Access