Glass Menagerie Essay, Research Paper
The Glass Menagerie refers to the fragile world
of dreams, and illusion. Within the play Williams uses
characters who face solitary struggles in an emotionally,
physically, and financially starved surrounding. During
the course of the play, a glass unicorn gets broken,
symbolizing the fragile nature of a dream world. It’s
more than coincidental that the play’s title refers to
the collection of glass animals that belongs to Laura.
The title of the play gives symbolism to the lives of Tom,
Laura, and Amanda.
To find relief from his boring, tedious and
stressful life along with his mother’s constant nagging
abuse, Tom goes to movies “nobody goes to the movies night
after night” (1874) and dreams about future adventures
for himself. To maintain with frustration and anger Tom
sometimes uses bitter humor, like when he calls himself
“Killer Wingfield” (1875) and “El Diablo” (1875).
Watching adventures on the movie screen offers Tom another
way of living, possibly one that he wishes he could be in.
Laura has withdrawn from the reality of her
disability and her mothers concern by always playing with
a collection of glass animals, a real glass menagerie.
Whenever there was an angry exchange of words in the house
Laura frequently shut herself away to her private, imaginary
world to mope and finger the miniature glass world. Instead
of attending Rubicam’s Business College, Laura has been
taking walks in the park and visiting museums. “I went
in the art museum and the bird-houses at the zoo. I visited
the penguin’s everyday!” (1871) She is so fragile that she
can hardly function in the real world. Illusion may be
dangerous for Laura since the menagerie serves as a
substitute for life.
Amanda has lived most of her life inside a glass
menagerie, refusing to accept reality about her miserable
existence and the handicap of her daughter. Williams shows
the family in downfall, with certain members holding badly
to past visions of greatness. She does not accept the
loneliness and poverty that surrounds her, but desperately
clings to her romanticized version of her past “Eternally
play those worn-out phonograph records your father left as
a painful reminder of him”. (1871) She lives in a glass
menagerie, a world that is built on illusion and that can
be easily broken. Symbolism makes it clearer that her
memories are really illusions.
The lives of Tom, Laura, and Amanda are all symbols of
different types of glass figurines; different glass menageries.
Amanda’s world of illusion is shattered by the truth of her existence. She is an older woman with no gentleman callers, and neither of the Wingfield children are able to really escape from their past. Laura remains trapped in her world of glass animals, while Tom escapes from his mother and sister to become a sailor.
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