Symbolism And Crossing The Rubicon In Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.”

1980 words - 8 pages

The masterful use of symbolism is delightfully ubiquitous in Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” He uses a collection of dim, dark and shadowy symbols that constantly remind the audience of the lost opportunity each of these three characters continually experience. This symbolism is not only use to enlighten the audience to their neglected opportunities to shine, but it is also repeatedly utilized to reinforce the ways in which the characters try in vain to cross over turbulent waters into a world of light and clarity. It is thematically a wrenching story of life gone by, and the barren attempts to realize another reality that is made more poignant by symbolic language, objects, setting, lighting and music. The characters are trying to escape their own reality, and continue desperately to grasp at real life. The powerful use of symbolism in The Glass Menagerie exaggerates their missed opportunities, and their inability to step into a new reality. Through the use of symbolism, Williams continually illuminates the attempts of each character to break their bondage, and cross their own personal Rubicon into another reality. Because of his expert use of symbolism the audience can assuredly feel the full weight and impact of their imprisonment and actions.

The symbolic use of glass not only in the title, but also in the little glass animals Laura collects and the fourth wall used in the stage directions creates a window, or prison through which they view the world. This window keeps the characters separated from the real world and skews the view of the reality they see. It is often said that people view the world through figurative lenses, and that those lenses determine how people are willing to view and act in the world around them. Williams has actually given the characters lenses by using bits of real glass through which they look at the world. At the end of the play even the stage direction utilizes a symbolic action. It directs that Tom “Smashes the glass on the floor. He plunges out on the fire-escape, slamming the door” (1048). This is symbolic of him breaking through the glass that surrounds him. In this final act, Tom has finally made the choice to break through the glass that surrounds him and step into another reality. Ironically, he winds up looking thru a glass window, another glass wall he cannot break through, where the perfume is sold and the bottles of colored and transparent glass, he thinks like “bits of shattered rainbows” (1048) He declares, “I run into the movies or bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger – anything I can do to blow your candles out!” (1048). He has traded one cage for another and is now, unable to stop recalling the images of Laura’s face through shadowy candlelight; still haunted by the life behind the glass.

The use of movies and the images of dark movie theaters symbolize a fantasy world, a world where Tom can escape and watch the idealistic adventures of...

Find Another Essay On Symbolism and Crossing the Rubicon in Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.”

Alienation in Tennessee Williams', The Glass Menagerie

973 words - 4 pages small and delicate as she is. They can easily break as Laura can. Through isolation Laura is protected from breaking in a cruel dark world and can live happily in her own world of illumination. WORKS CITED Williams, Tennessee. “The Glass Menagerie.” Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing. Laurie Kirszner. Stephen Mandell. 4th edition. Sea Harbor: Harcourt College Publishers. 2001. 1805-1854

Discuss Tennessee Williams' use of imagery and symbolism in The Glass Menagerie

2008 words - 8 pages In Tennessee Williams' play The Glass Menagerie; he uses symbols to represent the reoccurring theme of the failure to accept reality and Tom's theme of escape. Like his narrator, Tom, Williams has a poet's "weakness for symbols" and the most prominent of these symbols is Laura's glass menagerie, which is very central to the play and links all the themes together.The first symbol, presented in the first scene, is the fire escape. This represents

Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie

1152 words - 5 pages An inability to accept one’s reality and the idea of telling a story through the memory and emotions of someone involve come into play in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. The Glass Menagerie is narrated by Tom Wingfield and tells the story of how he came to leave his mother, Amanda, and his sister, Laura. Amanda is an overbearing Southern women, stuck in the ways of the past and obsessed with finding her daughter the perfect “gentleman

Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie

870 words - 3 pages Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie If The Glass Menagerie were performed without the effects Williams wrote into the script, then the play would barely have a plot. Williams' use of music, lighting and a television screen add depth and meaning to the play. He uses effects to portray the feelings of the characters, rather than their words or actions. In Tom's opening speech he states that'The play is memory.' Because it is

Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie

1102 words - 5 pages In the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee William’s, Tom narrates the story through his memories. Tom resided in a small tenement with his older, slightly crippled sister, Laura and his overbearing, audacious mother, Amanda. Tom is a young man in his mid-twenties who has had to assume the role as provider for the household. His and Laura’s father left them and their mother years ago. Their father was an alcoholic with adulterous tendencies. That left

Memory and Reality in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie

4637 words - 19 pages Memory and Reality in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie 'Being a memory play, it is dimly lighted, it is sentimental, it is not realistic'. To what degree is the play memory and to what degree is it realistic? "When a play employs unconventional techniques, it is not trying to escape its responsibility of dealing with reality, or interpreting experience, but is actually attempting to find a closer approach, a

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

1569 words - 6 pages lived in a dysfunctional family. Williams and his mentally ill sister were raised for the most part by their mother because his father spent so much time on the road as a traveling salesman. The rare times his father was home he was verbally abusive to Tennessee and was even accused of sexually molesting his daughter, Rose. Williams drew on that experience while writing his first big play, The Glass Menagerie. Each character in the play appears to

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

2577 words - 10 pages age 71. According to the medical examiner, Williams died from choking on the cap from a bottle of eye drops he used. It was said that his drug usage suppressed his gag reflex. Forensic detective and expert Michael Baden reviewed the medical files in regard to Williams's death, and stated that the results showed that Williams died of a drug and alcohol overdose, not from choking. (Tennessee) Historical Information: The Glass Menagerie by

The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams

1662 words - 7 pages , theatre “is not[…] the locus of real life but an artistic presentation of stories that serve the narrator’s purpose” (293). In his play The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams attempts to convey, through characterization and expressionism, the human tendency to allow the past to control one’s present actions and thoughts. William’s tragic life created the framework for The Glass Menagerie. Aside from the obvious similarity of Tennessee’s

"The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams.

1748 words - 7 pages Thesis: To analyze and understand the true dimensionof "The Glass Menagerie. To come to a basicunderstanding of the undertones of irony,symbolism, and how the individual charactersreact to their situations.Paper Outline:I. IntroductionII. ThemeA. escapeB. futilityC. escapeIII. SymbolismA. fire escapeB. menagerieC. JimIV. IronyA. TomB. AmandaV. Character AnalysisA. TomB. AmandaC. LauraD. JimVI. Conclusion."The Glass Menagerie"Tennessee Williams

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams.

1488 words - 6 pages being and an artist,"(Fordyce, 257).In Tennessee William's "The Glass Menagerie" it shows the contradictory life of Tom Wingfield. He struggles with being a hard worker, a protector of his love ones, and a fulfiller of his dreams. The character of Tom needed to feel a sense of independence by escaping the pressures that came from his family lifestyle.Works CitedBloom, Harold. Tennessee Williams. Pennsylvania: Chelsea House Publishers,2002. 43-69

Similar Essays

The Glass Menagerie Characterization And Symbolism In Tennessee Williams' Play.

819 words - 3 pages People have a certain way of thinking, feeling, and reacting that is known as human nature. In everyday life many actions, however unintentional, give clues to our personal agendas. Insecurities, especially, have a way of showing their presence through gestures, eye contact (or lack thereof), and verbal utterings. In "The Glass Menagerie", Tennessee Williams utilizes intense characterizations to illustrate the specific traits of his various

Symbolism In "The Glass Menagerie" By Tennessee Williams

1132 words - 5 pages "I have a poet's weakness for symbols." So states Tom Wingfield, narrator and major character in Tennessee William's timeless play "The Glass Menagerie". Through the eyes of Tom, the viewer gets a glance into the life of his family in the pre-war depression era; his mother, a southern belle desperately clinging to the past, his sister, a young woman too fragile to function in society, and himself, a struggling young poet working at a warehouse

Symbolism In The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams

779 words - 3 pages manly he is.Jim's nickname for Laura ,Blue Roses,suggests a phenomenon that is contraryto nature.Blue also means sad.The symbolism in the play The Glass Menagerie made the story much more interesting.It gavethe play a special point which made it more interesting to read.Tenessee Williams used a wide range ofsymbolic aspects to describe Laura,Amanda,Jim,and Tom who are four out of the five characters in theplay.Symbolism is sometimes very important in plays,stories,etc. because it tells us about the secretswhich are hidden inside.

Symbolism In "The Great Gatsby" By F Scott Fitzgerald And "The Glass Menagerie" By Tennessee Williams

1759 words - 7 pages Symbolism is an invaluable literary tool that may be employed by authors or playwrights to aid in the development of characters or to display themes in novels and plays. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses symbolism heavily in his text "The Great Gatsby", as does Tennessee Williams in "The Glass Menagerie". Various symbols appear throughout the respective texts that allow the reader to gain insight into character's personalities and also add value to major