Symbolism In The Glass Menagerie, By Tennessee Williams

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The Glass Menagerie was written by Tennessee Williams. Thomas Lanier Williams III of English, Welsh, Huguenot, and Jewish ancestry, was born in Columbus, Mississippi. He was the second child of Cornelius Coffin and Edwina (Dakin). The Glass Menagerie is a captivating, controversial and touching play about the lost dreams of a Southern family, residing in St. Louis, and their struggle to escape reality. "Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic" (page 753, lines 6-7). The play is a memory play and it is therefore very poetic in mood, setting, and dialogue. Tom Wingfield serves as both the narrator of the play as well as a character in it. "I am the narrator in the play, and also a character in it" (page …show more content…
The title itself, The Glass Menagerie, reveals one of the most important symbols. Laura's collection of glass animals represents her fragile state. When Jim, the gentleman caller, breaks the horn off her favorite unicorn, this represents Laura's break from her unique innocence, into reality. Laura is no longer alone in her world of glass animals. She has had a break into the real world. Another symbol is the ever-present, larger-than-life-size photograph of Mr. Wingfield. This picture is a constant reminder of a painful past and foreshadows Tom following in his father's footsteps. Amanda's fears of being left alone again are represented by Mr. Wingfield's smiling face always watching over the family. The play ends with Tom escaping to the outside world, but never escaping thoughts of his beloved sister, Laura. He confesses to the audience that he cannot forget Laura's "candles." Laura's "candles" symbolize the memory of Laura which stays with not only Tom but with anyone who is touched by The Glass Menagerie. All of these symbols representing Laura's broken innocence, Tom's inability to escape the past, and Amanda's fulfilled fears of being alone portray the recurring theme of a struggle towards a better life and the inevitable disappointment this

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