The Glass Menagerie

1973 words 8 pages
Research Paper
“The Glass Menagerie”

English 102
Spring 2010


I. Introduction

a. Thesis statement- Playwright Williams uses symbolism throughout “The Glass

Menagerie” to illustrate the struggle for happiness that each character faces.

II. Symbolism

a. The Glass Menagerie

b. Escape

c. The Unicorn

d. Darkness

III. Conclusion

The purpose of this paper is to introduce and analyze the play “The Glass Menagerie” by

Tennessee Williams. Specifically it will discuss the symbolism and imagery in this play. “The

Glass Menagerie” is a tragic story of the Wingfield family, a dysfunctional family of dreamers

who never seem to actually achieve their dreams. Amanda,
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She walks in the park or goes to a museum when she is supposed to be attending

secretarial school, simply because she cannot face the pressure of having to take a typing test.

She is fragile, like the menagerie, but she also escapes reality when she interacts with her glass

animals, and she escapes from the stark reality of her pitiful life. She has no friends, she has no

interests (other than the glass animals), and she has very little hope for the future. Like the rest

of the family, escape is part of her makeup and her soul, and so, she escapes into her own fragile

fantasy world, instead of attempting to live a normal and fulfilling life on her own. In an

interesting scene, Laura slips on the fire escape near the end of the play, and this could

symbolize her inability to escape from her own life. Tom uses the fire escape as a place of

refuge, but for Laura it is dangerous ground, and could ultimately mean that Laura cannot

negotiate the fire escape any more than she can negotiate the trials and stresses of the real world

outside the Wingfield apartment.

The unicorn figurine is also symbolic of Laura’s broken relationships, and her broken

body. The unicorn is her favorite piece in the collection, because it is unique and fragile, just

like she is. When it breaks, it is even more like Laura, and when she gives it to Jim (the

gentleman caller), she


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