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Glass Menagerie Essay, Research Paper
The play the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams appears to be a jumbled mess of random scenes filled with half minded characters living in an insane world. But when you look into the details and analyze each scene and the object and references within you discover it s a carefully planned work of art. By far Williams s genius is scene by his use of symbolism to reflect the true conflicts in the characters lives. Many objects mentioned in the play have a direct connection to the characters personality and problems they face. These objects often symbolize the reality of the situation and help us discover the true conflicts.
We find the first symbol in the very first scene. The fire escape is used as the connection between reality and fantasy. Even the word escape itself symbolizes one of the major conflicts in the play. Tom uses the fire escape as a retreat from his house. He goes out there to smoke cigarettes and relax away from the family. For Laura the fire escape is a retreat from reality. Amanda makes no use of the fire escape. She has no desire to leave her fantasy world.
Whenever Tom is running out in rage to go to the movies he exits thought the fire escape. His frequent trips to the movies show how he so desires to get out of the house. The fact that he uses the fire escape shows that connection between the fake world at home and the escape he has to make to see and be part of the real world. Tom says he goes to the movies to find adventure that has been a void in his life. For Tom the life at home with Laura and Amanda is not satisfying. He earns for realism and adventure. These frequent trips represent his desperate attempt to escape into reality. For the time being he accepts filling that void with his trips to the movies.
Amanda is the only character that shows no real interest or even comprehension of the issue of reality verses fantasy. Out of all the characters she is stuck the deepest in her world. Amanda s multiple references to Blue Mountain and her yellow dress directly show this denial. They are reflection on her life growing up in the south. Blue Mountain brings her back to her old home in the south. Her yellow dress with its silk sash reflects the wealthy and happy times of her life. Both are now long gone but to Amanda they have never really left. She still acts as though she is still there. She constantly makes reference to gentleman callers and she anxiously awaits there arrival.
One very obvious symbol is the glass menagerie itself. Laura s collection of precious glass represents Laura s fragile personality. The glass collection is also very private, much like Laura s life. The glass also reflects Laura s delicate and very sensitive emotion state. Laura is just as simple and fragile as her collection. Her menagerie is also a place for her to hide and be alone.
Another very obvious symbol relating to Laura is the unicorn. The unicorn is a direct representation of Laura. It is delicate, beautiful and fragile. It also symbolizes Laura s uniqueness and her position of standing out from the rest. The unicorn doesn t fit in with the other horses the way Laura doesn t fit into society. When Laura first shows Jim the unicorn he doesn t recognize it. Representing Laura when she opened the door and Jim didn t know who she was. When Laura gives Jim the unicorn at first he didn t even notice the horn. Relation to the way he doesn t pay any attention to Laura s noticeable defects. Surprisingly when Jim accidentally breaks the horn off the unicorn Laura shows no concern. If anything she seems excited. She tells Jim that the unicorn now looks less freakish. Now the other horses on the shelf will accept him. Again the unicorn symbolizing freakish Laura who since in the presence of Jim transformed herself into accepting the way she is, thus allowing others to accept her. She is now less freakish and has more confidence and self-esteem. This all as she realizes she is not as different from everyone else as she previously perceived herself to be. This happy moment soon comes to an end when Jim reveals he in engaged. Laura s life once again fell to pieces. Laura decides to give Jim the unicorn before he says goodbye. Jim was the one responsible for making the unicorn feel accepted on the shelf just as he made Laura feel accepted by society. Now that Laura has dropped back out of society the unicorn, representing Laura must follow her and leave his accepted place on the shelf. They were both shunned by society, then briefly accepted. Only to return to their lonely worlds.
Throughout the play there are countless references to objects with strong direct relationships to the character personalities and the lives they lead. The many unique symbols in the play all hold different meanings. These objects hold the characters in their own worlds. All the minor details in this play really bring to light all the major issues. This is where Williams s greatness is scene. This play is a marvelous masterpiece of fantasy and deception. Only upon complete analysis is the true beauty of the play discovered and his work appreciated.
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