Symbolism is a figure of speech that uses an object or action to represent something other than itself and convey some hidden meaning. Symbolism is used throughout the play and Tennessee Williams makes use of it very effectively. Tennessee Williams was born Thomas Lanier Williams on March 26, 1911 in Columbus, Mississippi, USA. He studied playwriting at the University of Iowa and his early plays were performed in Provincetown, Massachusetts during the 1940s including ‘The Glass Menagerie’.
The play was a great success when it opened on Broadway in New York City in 1945. Tennessee Williams died on February 25, 1983 and symbols and symbolism work very effectively within his plays. Symbolism is central to ‘The Glass Menagerie’. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: The play’s name, the glass menagerie refers to Laura Wingfield’s collection of delicate animals made from glass which are all broken except for one. Symbolism Laura symbolizes traditional values and expectations, as embodied by “the world’s most fragile things” that she keeps locked away behind a closed door.
Symbolism makes it clear how interiors are the true setting of the play. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: As Tom says at one point, “memory is a kind of homeland. ” Stereotypically feminine qualities – weakness, isolation, fearfulness – are associated with Laura and other women. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: Symbolism is used to show the interactions between Tom, Laura and Jim which are also symbolic of the relationships between men, women and children. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: The most notable symbol throughout the play is that of the glass menagerie itself.
Symbolism Laura’s collection represents her idealized concept of family life. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: Symbolism suggests Laura sees something “beautiful” about poverty when she mentions it would be almost a crime to break one of her collection because they’re so delicate. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: This implies she has an affinity towards being poor, or at least does not hate her “condition”. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: Symbolism is used by Tennessee Williams throughout the play.
Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: Symbolism is also present when Laura sees that Jim has brought with him a woman, which represents how she finds it difficult to believe that men are interested in women other than herself. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: Another example of symbolism is when Tom says that he longs to return home where things are not pretty but aren’t broken either. Symbolism makes it clearer how Tom does not see his mother’s memories as beautiful but rather sad and depressing because they are all broken, representing heartbreak and loneliness.
Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: Symbolism can also be used to represent some of the characters’ personalities. Symbolism Tom becomes very nervous about going home and doesn’t want to face his mother’s “games”, which symbolizes his fear and anxiety towards adult life. Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: Symbolism is used to show Tom attempts to escape from adult responsibilities and his family issues by drinking with Jim, as he would rather go out than spend time at home with Laura and Amanda.
Symbolism in ‘The Glass Menagerie’: Symbolism works very effectively within the play as Tennessee Williams presents an image through symbols that represents something entirely different. The use of symbolism throughout ‘The Glass Menagerie’ demonstrates how interiors are the true setting of the play. Symbolism is central to ‘The Glass Menagerie’. Symbolism makes it clear how interiors are the true setting of the play. Symbolism is used throughout Tennessee Williams’ plays and demonstrates how characters, objects and settings often have more than one meaning.
Symbolism can be used effectively within literature to represent ideas or qualities that cannot be expressed in words because it allows readers to interpret their own meanings. Symbolism works very effectively within ‘The Glass Menagerie’. Symbolism makes it easier for Tennessee Williams to show how Laura holds on to memories associated with her father as they’re beautiful rather than sad which shows through symbolism that she has an affinity towards being poor.
Symbolism is used throughout the play to relate an underlying current of deeper meaning which gives depth and insight into this troubled family. Symbolism can be found in virtually every aspect of The Glass Menagerie, but some are more prevalent than others. One engaging symbol for theatrical impact is that of Laura literally becoming a glass unicorn figure on numerous occasions, especially when she speaks on the phone with her gentleman caller. As stated by Williams himself, ‘The unicorn might have been intended as a representation or dramatization of Laura’s passionate purity.
This gives way to the idea that even if Laura is unable to express it herself, her actions still speak volumes about her character. After all, she did try out for the part of Queen Guinevere in her high school’s production of Camelot and always performed so perfectly. It is interesting to note that she had a whole costume prepared, even though the part called for her simply to be in the background. Symbolism can also be found in some of the symbols associated with Laura as well.
The unicorn itself was thought to have ‘powers against evil forces’ and as such is often seen as a protector of those who are pure hearted; Laura certainly fits this description perfectly. She ‘protects’ Jim from his own loneliness which has become more than he can handle and protects Amanda from having to accept that there is something wrong with one of her children. The last symbol worth noting here under Laura’s category would that of fire; it naturally ‘alters’ her in whatever way possible, for better or worse.
Another symbol which is perhaps most prevalent of all is that of the glass menagerie itself; specifically the ‘glass’ menagerie. The symbolism found here includes that of protectiveness; evident through Amandas reaction to Tom finding out about Jims involvement with Laura and his desire to keep him safe. Symbolism exists also in what the ‘glass’ represents; fragile, delicate, easily broken, etcetera. Symbolism can be found in how Amanda depends on this dream for not only herself but other people as well such as Tom who works at a warehouse to support it though he knows its just a matter-of-time until it breaks completely.