Essay on the Symbolism of the Menagerie in The Glass Menagerie

Essay on the Symbolism of the Menagerie in The Glass Menagerie

Length: 987 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Symbolism of the Menagerie in The Glass Menagerie

 
   Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, describes three separate characters, their dreams, and the harsh realities they face in a modern world.  The Glass Menagerie exposes the lost dreams of a southern family and their desperate struggle to escape reality. Williams' use of symbols adds depth to the play. The glass menagerie itself is a symbol Williams uses to represent the broken lives of Amanda, Laura and Tom Wingfield and their inability to live in the present.

The glass menagerie symbolizes Amanda Wingfield's overwhelming need to cling to her past and her fulfilled fear of being alone.  Amanda resents the poverty-stricken neighborhood in which she lives so much that she needs to mentally escape from it by invented romance and self-deception. Williams describes her as having "endurance and a kind of heroism, but she is also silly, snobbish, sometimes cruel and sometimes pathetic in her well-intentioned blundering"(Williams 1865).  Abandoned by her husband, Amanda comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, more gracious, southern life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by "gentleman callers".   Amanda is desperate to find her daughter, Laura, a husband, the kind of gentleman caller that she herself longed for, who would not have deserted her. "Well, in the South we had so many servants. Gone, gone, gone. All vestiges of gracious living! Gone completely! I wasn't prepared for what the future brought me." (Williams 1893). She foists her illusions on her unwilling children, lives in the past with pretensions to glory.

            Laura's collection of glass animals represents her hypersensitive nature and fragility.  The glass menagerie is ...


... middle of paper ...


...tle glass animals came to represent in my memory all the softest emotions that belong to the recollection of things past. They stood for all the tender things that relieve"(Williams 64). They retreat into their own separate worlds to escape the harshness of life.  Amanda, Laura, and Tom are incapable of living in the present. Mirroring the social and economic despair in the U.S., The Glass Menagerie is nostalgia for a past world and its evocation of loneliness and lost love, which celebrates, above all, the human need to dream.

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Crandall, George. The Critical Response to Tennessee Williams. Westport: Greenwood, 1996.

Martin, Robert. Critical Essays on Tennessee Williams (Critical Essays on American Literature). New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997.

Williams, Tennessee. "The Glass Menagerie". New York: Random House, 1985.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie

- Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie Symbolism plays an integral part in Williams’s play, The Glass Menagerie. Examples of the use of symbolism include the fire escape, as an escape from the family, the phonograph, as an escape from reality, the unicorn, as a symbol for Laura's uniqueness and the father’s photograph, representing something different to each character. Through regonition of these symbols, a greater understanding of the play’s theme is achieved. Throughout the play, Tom Wingfield was torn by a responsibility he felt for his mother and sister and the need to be his own man....   [tags: Glass Menagerie essays]

Strong Essays
1165 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on the Symbolism of the Menagerie in The Glass Menagerie

- The Symbolism of the Menagerie in The Glass Menagerie      Tennessee Williams' play, The Glass Menagerie, describes three separate characters, their dreams, and the harsh realities they face in a modern world.  The Glass Menagerie exposes the lost dreams of a southern family and their desperate struggle to escape reality. Williams' use of symbols adds depth to the play. The glass menagerie itself is a symbol Williams uses to represent the broken lives of Amanda, Laura and Tom Wingfield and their inability to live in the present....   [tags: Glass Menagerie essays]

Strong Essays
987 words (2.8 pages)

Essay on Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams

- In his drama, The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams uses symbolism in order to develop multi-faceted characters and to display the recurring themes of the play. These various symbols appear throughout the entire piece, and they are usually disguised as objects or imagery. They allow the reader to know the characters’ personalities, and their true inside characteristics. These symbols also add to the major themes, which develop as the play gains momentum. In the drama, symbols play the most important role....   [tags: The Glass Menagerie Essays]

Free Essays
2400 words (6.9 pages)

Essay on Powerful Symbols and Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie

- Powerful Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie       Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is a classic among classics for a number of reasons. The narrator, Tom Wingfield, gives the reader an inside look into the lives of a common family living in the pre-war depression era. The members of this family experience a great deal, and their lives are made much more vivid and meaningful through Williams' use of symbolism. Three well-crafted symbols are the fire escape, which provides hope and an escape to the outside world and from it; the glass menagerie, which is a metaphor for Laura's fragility and uniqueness; and rainbows, which symbolize unrealized hopes and aspirations....   [tags: Glass Menagerie essays]

Free Essays
1590 words (4.5 pages)

Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie Essay

- In “The Glass Menagerie”, written by Tennessee Williams, symbolism is very prevalent throughout the text. Laura’s glass menagerie was the most easily identifiable symbol because of how relatable it was to the world she lived in. The fire escape was also another symbol that made its presence in the play along with the dance hall that was located just outside. The candles and rainbows mentioned also have some symbolic meaning, in my opinion, which could be left to the interpretation of the reader....   [tags: Theatre, Tennessee Williams]

Strong Essays
1265 words (3.6 pages)

Symbolism In The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams Essay

- Tennessee Williams', The Glass Menagerie, is a play that evokes great sympathy and in some cases, empathy for a protagonist who struggles to overcome two opposing forces; his responsibilities and his desires. There are many symbols and non-liner references that contribute to the development of characterization, dramatic tensions and the narrative. This essay will examine in detail, the aspects of the play that contribute to the development of the above mentioned elements. In Tom's opening addresses, he explains to the audience that the play's fifth character is his absent father –present only in the form of a picture that hangs on the wall....   [tags: Tennessee Williams Glass Menagerie]

Strong Essays
1821 words (5.2 pages)

Symbolism In Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie Essay

- Symbolism In Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie      Symbolism is a major aspect in Tennessee William's famous play, "The Glass Menagerie." On the surface, the short slice of life story seems to be simple. However, if the reader digs deeper they will find that there are several symbols that give the play a deeper meaning. Each character defines each symbol in a different way. Aside from character symbols, there is overall symbolism in this play. It is set in a memory, so it creates a soft, dream-like setting....   [tags: Tennessee Williams Glass Menagerie Essays]

Strong Essays
1760 words (5 pages)

Symbols and Symbolism in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie Essay

- Symbols and Symbolism in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie   The Glass Menagerie illustrates how Tennessee Williams incorporates symbols to help express the central theme of the play. One of the recurring symbols, apparent throughout the play, is that of the "glass menagerie" - symbolic of Laura herself. Another symbol for Laura is the glass unicorn. Still another symbol is that of the picture of the father - symbolic of freedom. These symbols play an important part in the development of the plot, as well as the theme of the play....   [tags: Glass Menagerie Essays Williams]

Strong Essays
732 words (2.1 pages)

Free Glass Menagerie Essays: Escape Symbolism

- Escape Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie If we take a look at the different symbols used throughout the play, I think that the most important one when it comes to escape is the fire escape. It is in the center from the very beginning, when Tom makes his opening addressing to the audience from it. To understand the role of the fire escape one has to see that it serves a different purpose for each of the characters. In general we can say that it represents the borderline between freedom and imprisonment....   [tags: Glass Menagerie essays]

Free Essays
415 words (1.2 pages)

Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie Essay

- Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie From the beginning, the figure of the narrator shows that Williams' play will not follow the conventions of realistic theater. The narrator breaks the conceptual "fourth wall" of naturalistic drama by addressing the audience directly. Tom also tells us that he is going to give the audience truth disguised as illusion, making the audience conscious of the illusory quality of theater. By playing with the theme of memory and its distortions, Williams is free to use music, monologues, and projected images to haunting effect....   [tags: essays research papers]

Strong Essays
1625 words (4.6 pages)