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Discuss TennesseeWilliam's use of imagery and symbolism in The Glass Menagerie.

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Introduction

Discuss Tennessee William's use of imagery and symbolism in The Glass Menagerie. 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 the "bridge" between the illusory world of the Wingfields and the world of reality. The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation. This "bridge" seems to be a one way passage. But the direction varies for each character. For Tom, the fire escape is the way out of the world he lives in with Amanda and Laura and an entrance into the world of reality. This also symbolises how Tom wants to escape from "the trap" he calls home and lead a more adventurous life. ...read more.

Middle

This too has a deeper meaning of his desperate desires to leave home without causing any pain to anyone, most of all, to Laura. Jim can also be seen as a significant symbol for all characters in the play. To Laura, Jim represents the one thing she fears and does not want to face, reality. Also, Jim is a symbol of "the common man", a common person or even the outside world, in which she contrasts greatly with. As well, he resembles her past, reminding her of her unfortunate experiences and insecurities in High School. To Amanda, Jim represents the days of her youth, when she went frolicking about picking jonquils and supposedly having "seventeen gentlemen callers on one Sunday afternoon." Therefore, Amanda used Jim and the whole notion of a gentlemen caller to remind her of her past and hence, being able to relive it in the present world. Although Amanda desperately desires to see Laura settled down with a proper husband, it is hard to tell whether she wanted a gentleman caller to be invited for Laura sake or for her own. This also fits in with how Amanda doesn't understand her children and how she feels the worst future for Laura is a future where she's: ...stuck away in some little mousetrap of a room...eating the crust of humanity. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Glass Unicorn The glass unicorn in Laura's collection-significantly, her favorite figure-represents her peculiarity. As Jim points out, unicorns are "extinct" in modern times and are lonesome as a result of being different from other horses. Laura too is unusual, lonely, and ill-adapted to existence in the world in which she lives. The fate of the unicorn is also a smaller-scale version of Laura's fate in Scene Seven. When Jim dances with and then kisses Laura, the unicorn's horn breaks off, and it becomes just another horse. Jim's advances endow Laura with a new normalcy, making her seem more like just another girl, but the violence with which this normalcy is thrust upon her means that Laura cannot become normal without somehow -shattering. Eventually, Laura gives Jim the unicorn as a "souvenir." Without its horn, the unicorn is more appropriate for him than for her, and the broken figurine represents all that he has taken from her and destroyed in her. "Blue Roses" Like the glass unicorn, "Blue Roses," Jim's high school nickname for Laura, symbolizes Laura's unusualness yet allure. The name is also associated with Laura's attraction to Jim and the joy that his kind treatment brings her. Furthermore, it recalls Tennessee -Williams's sister, Rose, on whom the character of Laura is based. Daniela Germano Year 13- English Literature 11/01/04 ...read more.

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