Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie Essay

This essay has a total of 622 words and 4 pages.

Symbolism in The Glass Menagerie



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
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