Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams

The play The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, Williams uses many symbols
which represent many different things. Many of the symbols used in the play try
to symbolize some form of escape or difference between reality and illusion. The
first symbol, presented in the first scene, is the fire escape. This represents
the "bridge" between the illusory world of the Wingfields and the
world of reality. This "bridge" seems to be a one way passage. But the
direction varies for each character. For Tom, the fire escape is the way out of
the world of Amanda and Laura and an entrance into the world of reality. For

Laura, the fire escape is a way into her world. A way to escape from reality.

Both examples can readily be seen: Tom will stand outside on the fire escape to
smoke, showing that he does not like to be inside, to be a part of the
illusionary world. Laura, on the other hand, thinks of the fire escape as a way
in and not a way out. This can be seen when Amanda sends Laura to go to the
store: Laura trips on the fire escape. This also shows that Laura's fears and
emotions greatly affect her physical condition, more so than normal people.

Another symbol presented deals more with Tom than any of the other characters:

Tom's habit of going to the movies shows us his longing to leave the apartment
and head out into the world of reality. A place where one can find adventure.

And Tom, being a poet, can understand the needs of man to long for adventure and
romance. But he is kept from entering reality by Amanda, who criticizes him as
being a "selfish dreamer." But, Tom has made steps to escape into
reality by transferring the payment of a light bill to pay for his dues in the

Merchant Seaman's Union. Another symbol, which deals with both Amanda and Laura,
is Jim O'Connor. To Laura, Jim represents the one thing she fears and does not
want to face, reality. Jim is a perfect example of "the common man." A
person with no real outstanding quality. In fact, Jim is rather awkward, which
can be seen when he dances with Laura. To Amanda, Jim represents the days of her
youth, when she went frolicking about picking jonquils and supposedly having
"seventeen gentlemen callers on one Sunday afternoon." Although Amanda
desires to see Laura settled down with a nice young man, it is hard to tell
whether she wanted a gentleman caller to be invited for Laura or for herself.

One symbol which is rather obvious is Laura's glass menagerie. Her 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 affects

Laura's emotional state greatly. When Amanda tells Laura to practice typing,

Laura instead plays with her glass. When Amanda is heard walking up the fire
escape, she quickly hides her collection. She does this to hide her secret world
from the others. When Tom leaves to go to the movies in an angered rush, he
accidentally breaks some of Laura's glass. The shattered glass represents

Laura's understanding of Tom's responsibilities to her. Also, the unicorn, which
is important, represents Laura directly. Laura points out to Jim that the
unicorn is different, just as she is different. She also points out that the
unicorn does not complain of being different, as she does not complain either.

And when Jim breaks the horn off the unicorn, Laura points out that now it is
like the other horses, just as Laura has shed some of her shyness and become
more normal. When she hands the broken unicorn to Jim, this might represent

Laura handing over her broken love to Jim, as Jim has revealed that he is
engaged to be married. As can be seen, there are quite a few symbols in this
play. And a number of them have diverse meanings. Most of these symbols have a
direct meaning in the author's own life. This is understandable seeing that the
play is supposed to be "memory play." It is obvious that this memory
play is based on Williams' own memories.

Bibliography

The Glass Menagerie The play The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams,

Williams uses many symbols which represent many different things. Many of the
symbols used in the play try to symbolize some form of escape or difference
between reality and illusion. The first symbol, presented in the first scene, is
the fire escape. This represents the "bridge" between the illusory
world of the Wingfields and the world of reality. This "bridge" seems
to be a one way passage. But the direction varies for each character. For Tom,
the fire escape is the way out of the world of Amanda and Laura and an entrance
into the world of reality. For Laura, the fire escape is a way into her world. A
way to escape from reality. Both examples can readily be seen: Tom will stand
outside on the fire escape to smoke, showing that he does not like to be inside,
to be a part of the illusionary world. Laura, on the other hand, thinks of the
fire escape as a way in and not a way out. This can be seen when Amanda sends

Laura to go to the store: Laura trips on the fire escape. This also shows that

Laura's fears and emotions greatly affect her physical condition, more so than
normal people. Another symbol presented deals more with Tom than any of the
other characters: Tom's habit of going to the movies shows us his longing to
leave the apartment and head out into the world of reality. A place where one
can find adventure. And Tom, being a poet, can understand the needs of man to
long for adventure and romance. But he is kept from entering reality by Amanda,
who criticizes him as being a "selfish dreamer." But, Tom has made
steps to escape into reality by transferring the payment of a light bill to pay
for his dues in the Merchant Seaman's Union. Another symbol, which deals with
both Amanda and Laura, is Jim O'Connor. To Laura, Jim represents the one thing
she fears and does not want to face, reality. Jim is a perfect example of
"the common man." A person with no real outstanding quality. In fact,

Jim is rather awkward, which can be seen when he dances with Laura. To Amanda,

Jim represents the days of her youth, when she went frolicking about picking
jonquils and supposedly having "seventeen gentlemen callers on one Sunday
afternoon." Although Amanda desires to see Laura settled down with a nice
young man, it is hard to tell whether she wanted a gentleman caller to be
invited for Laura or for herself. One symbol which is rather obvious is Laura's
glass menagerie. Her 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 affects Laura's emotional state greatly. When Amanda
tells Laura to practice typing, Laura instead plays with her glass. When Amanda
is heard walking up the fire escape, she quickly hides her collection. She does
this to hide her secret world from the others. When Tom leaves to go to the
movies in an angered rush, he accidentally breaks some of Laura's glass. The
shattered glass represents Laura's understanding of Tom's responsibilities to
her. Also, the unicorn, which is important, represents Laura directly. Laura
points out to Jim that the unicorn is different, just as she is different. She
also points out that the unicorn does not complain of being different, as she
does not complain either. And when Jim breaks the horn off the unicorn, Laura
points out that now it is like the other horses, just as Laura has shed some of
her shyness and become more normal. When she hands the broken unicorn to Jim,
this might represent Laura handing over her broken love to Jim, as Jim has
revealed that he is engaged to be married. As can be seen, there are quite a few
symbols in this play. And a number of them have diverse meanings. Most of these
symbols have a direct meaning in the author's own life. This is understandable
seeing that the play is supposed to be "memory play." It is obvious
that this memory play is based on Williams' own memories.