Symbolism In The Glass Menegerie Essay

971 words - 4 pages

Symbolism in The Glass MenagerieFrom the beginning, the figure of the narrator shows that Williams' play will not follow the conventions of realistic theater. The narrator breaks the conceptual "fourth wall" of naturalistic drama by addressing the audience directly. Tom also tells us that he is going to give the audience truth disguised as illusion, making the audience conscious of the illusory quality of theater. By playing with the theme of memory and its distortions, Williams is free to use music, monologues, and projected images to haunting effect. Tom, as narrator, tells the audience that the gentleman caller is a real personThere is symmetry between the uneasy peace of the time period and the uneasy peace in the Wingfield house. Just as America stirs restlessly with the uneasy peace before the Second World War, Tom seethes with the need to escape his home and set out into the worldThis is the first scene where the audience sees Laura taking care of her glass menagerie. The glass menagerie is the most important symbol for Laura and her fragility. Her engagement with the tiny animals reveals how painfully afraid she is of interaction with other humans. The qualities of glass parallel Laura's characteristics: like the tiny glass animals, she is delicate, beautiful in her oddness, terribly fragile. The little collection, like Laura, in an entity that is locked completely in the realm of the home. The animals must be kept on a little shelf and polished; there is only one place where they belong. In a similar way, Laura is kept and cared for, dependent on her mother and brother for financial support. The Blue Roses are another important symbol of Laura. The image of blue roses is a beautiful oneOne of the play's important themes is the conflict between the desire to live one's own life and the responsibility for one's family. Tom's wages pay the bills, but Amanda continues to treat him as a child. She confiscates and returns his books, and during their argument she attempts to control their discussion as an adult controls an argument with a little boy. Tom's fascination with the movies and the magician shows his need for fantasy and escapism. Tom is always dreaming of fantastic places far from St. Louis, and for now he escapes through the illusions offered by the movie house and the stage magician. He dreams of leaving home, but his responsibilities for his sister and his mother have so far kept him in the Wingfield apartment. What he sees at the magic show is directly connected to the theme of conflict between Tom's responsibility for his family and his need to live his own life. The magician's most impressive trick becomes a symbol for what Tom wishes he could do to make a clean, easy escape, without destroying the coffin or...

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