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The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

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The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams Within the play The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, there is a significant use of symbolism. One of the foremost uses of symbolism is seen through the character of Laura Wingfield, and her collection of glass animal figurines. Throughout the play, Laura's collection of glass ornaments is constantly referenced. Because she is crippled and suffers from extreme social anxiety, Laura is portrayed as living in a private world, which is populated by these glass animals. This reference is used as a symbol representing the parallels between the glass facet of the ornaments and the delicate condition of Laura. As a result of her unvarying solace while embracing her collection of glass ornaments, Laura develops a dependence upon the delicate glass menagerie. Laura's collection of glass represents her own private world. Set apart from reality, a place where she can hide and be safe. The events that happen to Laura's glass affect Laura's emotional state greatly. Laura's crippled physical and mental condition cause her to have no motivation to pursue professional success, romantic relationships, or even ordinary friendships; preferring to retreat to her fantasy world of glass ornaments. An example of this lack of motivation and reliance upon her menagerie is displayed in the second scene, when Amanda tells Laura to practice typing; Laura instead plays with her glass. When Amanda is heard walking up the fire escape, Laura quickly hides her collection; she does this to hide her secret world from the others. Another example of Laura's intimate connection with her glass ornaments occurs when Tom leaves to go to the movies. In an angered rush, Tom accidentally breaks some of Laura's glass when he throws his coat off. As a result of the glass shattering, Laura's feelings immediately shatter; she begins to cry as if a piece of her had shattered along with the ornaments. A more specific example of the importance of Laura's collection of glass is the unicorn. This is Laura's favorite, and the most important of the symbolic ornaments, representing Laura directly. This ornament comes into play when Laura is introduced to her brother's friend Jim; who turns out to be the former high school crush of Laura. When Jim asks Laura what she has done since high school, she immediately displays her collection of glass figurines. Laura specifically points out the unicorn and the fact that it is different, just as she is different.
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