The Glass Menagerie: Glass Animals

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Updated: Mar 20, 2021
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The Glass Menagerie: Glass Animals essay

The most important symbol in The Glass Menagerie is Laura’s collection of glass animals and this gives the title of the play. As the name of this play informs us, the glass menagerie, or animals collection, is The central idea or symbol. It embodies her imaginative world. Laura‘s collection of glass animals presents the number of aspects of her personality. Like these figurines, Laura is subtitle, fancy, and somehow old-fashioned. Glass is thin, but, when light is shone upon it right, it reflects the entire rainbow of colors. Likewise, Laura, though solid and bland and strangers, is a source of odd, multifaceted pleasure to those who prefer to see her in the perfect light. The menagerie also presents the creative reality to which Laura devote herself-A world that is bright and seductive but from weak illusions. “Blue Roses” is linked with Laura’s attraction to Jim and the emotion that his con care takes her. Moreover, it recalls Tennessee William’s sister, Rose, on whom this role of Laura is found. At first, before James warmth overcomes her paralyzing shyness, Laura‘s voice is thin and breathless, as though she had just run up a flight of stairs. Jim’s attitude is gently humorous. While the incident is apparently unimportant, it is to Laura the climax of her secret life. ( Scene Seven stage directions).

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The fire escape and the phonograph are other symbols of escape. The fire escape is an escape from the family and the phonograph is an escape from reality. Tom often stands on the apartment’s fire escape, the metaphorical temporary action from the confines of his everyday life. Tom smokes out there, removing himself from the figurative housing flames by lighting his personal fire, which also represents his tendency to keep his fate rather than stay consumed by his family and his history. His regular way to the fire escape foreshadows his eventful exit from the house. In comparison, the one moment Laura is pushed onto this fire escape, she falters, emphasizing how inextricably she is held to experience in the Wingfield world.

The glass unicorn is also another big symbol in the play. It is Laura’s most favorite among her collection. The horn makes it distinct from all the other horses in the menagerie. In scene 7, as she and Jim, “the gentlemen caller,” dancing, he unexpectedly bumps over the unicorn, causing the horn on the unicorn to break off. Laura suggests that now all the horses would look the same and won’t be so “freakish.” For the time at the scene, it seems like Laura too has a chance to be like all the other girls. When Jim impulsively kisses her, she seems astonished by what occurred. The unicorn symbolizes her broken heart and that her broken heart will go on with Jim. After the horn breaks she begins to become an ordinary person. It also symbolizes her growth.

In the play the idea of “blue roses” is a symbol for Laura‘s character. Although just noted briefly, this concept of “blue roses” is one important part to Laura, the insecure, delicate, and graceful young woman. The name “blue roses” is presented to Laura by Jim O’Conner in high school. This name is extremely symbolic. Laura refuses, stating that “blue is all wrong for roses”, yet this statement fits her. It fits her physical crippling defect and her personality. She is frail like a rose with an ethereal atmosphere that seems almost unreal.

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The Glass Menagerie: Glass Animals. (2021, Mar 20). Retrieved from