Tennessee Williams’ play, “The Glass Menagerie”, depicts the life of an odd yet intriguing character: Laura. Because she is affected by a slight disability in her leg, she lacks the confidence as well as the desire to socialize with people outside her family. Refusing to be constrained to reality, she often escapes to her own world, which consists of her records and collection of glass animals. This glass menagerie holds a great deal of significance throughout the play (as the title implies) and is representative of several different aspects of Laura’s personality. Because the glass menagerie symbolizes more than one feature, its imagery can be considered both consistent and fluctuating.
The glass menagerie continually signifies Laura’s unique personality throughout the play. If I were to pick any character, fictional or real life, to be the definition of an introvert, Laura would have to be the one. Her disposition is naturally shy and quiet; however, another part of her unwillingness to socialize has to do with the unnecessary pressure that her mother puts on her to attract a suitor. Laura’s mother, Amanda, indulges herself in telling stories of all the “gentlemen callers” she enticed in her younger days. In scene one, she brags to Laura, “One Sunday afternoon in Blue Mountain – your mother received – seventeen! – gentlemen callers!” Although she means well and cares for Laura’s future, the challenge of living up to her mother’s social expectations intimidates Laura to the point of not wanting to be social at all. It also degrades her confidence as she says to Amanda, “I’m just not popular like you were in Blue Mountain.”
Although Laura’s social graces are lacking, making her seem superficially bland and borin...
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...her unique beauty. This incident changes her in the way that a piece of her innocence that made her so different was now gone. She is still beautiful and fragile like the menagerie, but just as she gives a piece of her collection to Jim, she also gives him a piece of her heart that she would never be able to regain. Laura and her menagerie are both at risk of being crushed when exposed to the uncaring reality of the world.
Because the glass menagerie symbolizes more than one feature, its imagery can be considered both consistent and fluctuating. The consistent side of this portrayal is that the menagerie is a constant symbol of Laura’s personality. However, when Laura’s personality changes, so do the things about her that the collection represents. The basic symbolism of the glass menagerie is that of the changes that occur in Laura’s life and personality.
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