Symbolism In “The Glass Menagerie” Essay, Research Paper
Throughout “The Glass Menagerie”, Tennessee Williams utilizes a variety of symbols. The symbols create innusual vibes that make the entire play. The symbols range from the jonquils to the unicorn.
The jonquils that are referred to from time to time throughout the drama represent Amanda’s obsession with her youthful past. “jonquils became an absolute obsession” p.951. When Amanda is taken back to her youthful days she reminisces about her loads of gentlemen callers. She always speaks fondly of her beauty and shape the 17 gentlemen callers she had once received. “One seventeen–gentlemen callers!” p.929, she says.
The symbolism of the unicorn ironically simple. The unicorn symbolizes Laura. Laura is very different from normal young females. She is confined in her own little world. The unicorn and Laura are parallel in that both stand out. Jim notices notices and recognizes the fact and states “Unicorns, aren’t they extinct in the modern world?” p. 966. He also says “You knows–you are–well—very different!”p.266
When Laura opens up to Jim her fears begin to evaporate. Because this metamorphosis occurs she becomes more like your average or typical girl. When the unicorn breaks Laura seems to be aware that change may be good. When she says to Jim “Maybe it’s a blessing in disquise” p.966 her change becomes more apparent. The hornless glass animal is transformed into a normal glass figure when the unicorn breaks. On p.966 Laura states “I’ll just imagine the horn was removed to make him feel less freakish…” also allows the reader to know that when Laura dances and converse with Jim, she too feels less freakish.
The scarf, picture of Amanda’s husband, and coffin symbolize escape for Tom. The use of the magician’s scarf on Laura that changes canaries to goldfish and so forth is a lame attempt. The intentions and motives are that Laura will be transformed into a productive, independent, and married individual. Why? So, that Tom can leave home with the assurance that she is well cared for and that Amanda is satisfied. “I mean that as soon as Laura has got somebody to take care of her, married, a home of her own, independent—why, then you’ll be free…”p.942, says Amanda.
Tom’s father, the telephone man, that preferred long distance, is thought of by Tom as a lucky man. Both of them are driven out of their wits by Amand. Tom envies his father because he escaped without a trace. Tom, on the other hand, is struggling to depart from his deranged mother. He spends every waking night at the movies drinking to soothe his frustrations. Tom admits while pointing to his father’s picture “Why, listen, if self is what I thought of, Mother, I’d be where he is—-gone!p.937
During one of his nightly excursions, he stumbled across Malvolio the Magician. His tricks were highly unique in that he got out of a nailed coffin without removing the nails. After arriving home Tom states, “There is a trick that would come in handy for me — get me out of this 2 by 4 situation!”p.938. He means that he wishes that his departure was a clean get away, one that wouldn’t cause anyone pain.
As can be seen by all of the preceding statements, symbolism is indeed one of the foundations of this play. in the discovering of the correct interpretations, the process of speculation led to citation; which either confirmed a point to be valid or contradicted it all together. “The Glass Menagerie” has spectacular hidden meanings (symbolism) that allow each character’s inner struggle to be deeply felt by the reader.