The Glass Menagerie uses an extensive pattern of symbolism that describes the characters of Tom, Amanda, Laura, and Jim Glass, light, color and music constitute the substance of the dominant symbols and motifs, serving to reveal deeper aspects of characters and underlying themes of the play. Tennessee Williams wrote the play so that each character had a special symbol that resembled their personality.
But he didn’t only give the characters a resembling symbol, he also mentions the apartment blocks to be hive-like conglomerations of cellular living-units resembling a bee stock. The way he describes their location also has a lot of symbolism in its roots because he describes them to be flowering as warty growths in overcrowded urban centers.
Tennessee Williams used many symbolic aspects to describe Laura and the world she lives in. In the play, Laura represents the very fragile, shy, and emotionally crippled girl. In her mind, she lives in a world of glass animals and doesn’t have a connection to the real world. The Menagerie of glass also represents the fragile relationships among all the characters.
The glass unicorn is most obviously a symbol of Laura–delicate, sadly different, an anomaly in the modern world. The glass motif recurs throughout the whole play in many other forms. When Laura dropped out of college she constantly visited the zoo, a glasshouse of tropical flowers that are as vulnerable as she is. During Laura’s and Jim’s brief romantic encounter, Laura is gaining more confidence in herself. It seems as if she is starting to escape her world of illusions. When they started dancing together, Jim accidentally knocked the little glass horse over.
Laura, who usually worships her glass collection more than anything else, replied to his excuse;”He’s lost his horn. It doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.” and “I’ll just imagine he had an operation. The horn was removed to make him feel less–freakish! Now he will feel more at home with the other horses, the ones who don’t have horns….”.These two quotes give an impression that Laura is finally escaping her illusive world. She thinks that she might have a chance to survive the real world.
What she doesn’t know is that she is about to be wounded by the news of Jim’s engagement. After Jim tells her the news, she gives him the unicorn as a souvenir and retreats into her land of the glass menagerie never to come out again. In the play, Tom is the adventure-seeking man trying to escape the prison Amanda is keeping him trapped in.
To escape the real world, Tom constantly goes to the movies. The movies make him think about all the adventures he missing. It’s his little land of dreams. He is jealous of his father who left his family and achieved what Tom always wanted, “Freedom”. Tom has never been comfortable with the way his mother treated him. She always disagreed with the way Tom behaved.
When Amanda put him down after Jim left, saying that he didn’t even know that his friend was engaged and that Jim broke Laura’s heart, Tom finally had enough. He took the money that was meant to pay for the electric bill, left the family, and finally pursued his dream of adventure. Still, when he crosses by a window with little perfume bottles made of glass or other small things made of this material, he thinks of Laura. Amanda, who is the domineering parent of Tom and Laura, lives in a fantasy world in which she was a young beautiful girl, living in an area called Blue Mountain.
She always told Laura and Tom about the many gentleman callers she received every day. Sometimes there were as many as seventeen a day, all prominent men on the Mississippi Delta. To make some extra money she sells The Homemaker’s Companion that features the serialized sublimations of ladies of letters who think in terms of the delicate cup-like breasts, slim, tapering waists, and rich and creamy thighs.
Those are all parts of her fantasy world that make her think back to the time when she was a young and beautiful girl. She also is the domineering parent in the family. She treats Tom very harshly sometimes. She does that because she is scared that she is going to lose her children just like she did her husband. Jim is the most realistic character in the play.
He is didn’t live in any fantasy world like Tom and his family did. When he talked to Laura after they had dinner, he tried to make her more comfortable because he felt that Laura was very shy. He showed Laura how superior he is in order to impress her.
For example, he said, “Look how big my shadow is when I stretch.”He wanted to show Laura how manly he is. Jim’s nickname for Laura, Blue Roses, suggests a phenomenon that is contrary to nature. Blue also means sad. The symbolism in the play The Glass Menagerie made the story much more interesting. It gave the play a special point which made it more interesting to read.
Tenessee Williams used a wide range of symbolic aspects to describe Laura, Amanda, Jim, and Tom who are four out of the five characters in the play. Symbolism is sometimes very important in plays, stories, etc. because it tells us about the secrets which are hidden inside.