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 the family to the letter. Laura and Tom are bound together by their mother, Amanda, and the ties of family. Amanda reinforces the reasons they need to stay by making them believe that they have an obligation to the family such as when she spoke to Tom: “What right have you got to jeopardize your job? Jeopardize the security of us all? How do you think we’d manage-” (Williams 935: 3). Even still Amanda is also a part of this menagerie, since she is trapped by her past and the abandonment of her husband. Their family is also a menagerie in the other sense of the word because they each have their own individual defects that causes them to be a strange collection of people; Laura is crippled and shy, Amanda is haunted by her mistakes, and Tom is stricken with wanderlust.
The family member in the play can be described as fragile. 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...
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...her love for Jim, a process that seems to emotionally shut down Laura at the end of the play. This event also shows how Laura is different from her brother and her mother because she is able to let go of her regrets. Amanda and Tom are both haunted by the regrets they have while Laura proves here that she can move on.
“The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams is a play that uses symbolism to show a variety of elements. The main symbol is the glass menagerie since it represents the family as a group and the family members as individuals while representing their goals and symbolizing important plot points. Laura is the character that has the most ties to the glass menagerie since it represents her as an individual figurine. It represents the way that Laura grows as a person in the play such as her transition from feeling like a freak to feeling like a normal woman.
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