The Glass Menagerie - Symbols

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In The Glass Menagerie there are many main symbols these are stage props, stage lighting and stage sounds. In regard to stage props the main ones are the glass menagerie, the fire escape and Mr. Wingfield’s picture. Also in terms of stage lighting the main symbols are the candles, spotlight and the moonlight. And finally the main symbols for stage sounds are the Glass menagerie music, paradise dance hall music (PDH) and Laura’s Victorola. Tennessee Williams generally uses symbolism in the play to deepen our understanding of characters and to emphasis the play’s themes. The characters we understand in the play throughout this are Tom, Laura, Amanda, and Jim. The themes that are particular highlighted are dreams, time, communication and imprisonment.

One of Tennessee Williams’s first main symbolic symbols is his use of stage props.  My first main focus is on the glass menagerie itself.

 First of all the glass menagerie symbolises Laura‘s delicacy, just like glass the reason for this is because Laura is very fragile and can easily be broken, mentally and physically. There is one specific part in the play where Jim is admiring her menagerie. There is one glass object that Laura really likes which is a unicorn, so she picks it up and gives it to Jim then Jim accidentally drops it. As it hits the ground the horn from the horse falls off, this breakage of the horse‘s horn could symbolise Laura’s heart being broken by Jim. Laura used to really admire Jim when they were in school together, but now that she knows that he is engaged her heart has been broken. When the horn from the horse falls off this could also symbolise Rose‘s prefrontal lobotomy. In every play Tennessee Williams wrote, he dedicated something to her, whether it be a character or a stage prop. The unicorn also has certain uniqueness to it compared with the other horses in the glass menagerie because of its horn, but if you take away its horn, it becomes normal like the other ones. This is exactly what happens to Laura; usually she never talks and is incredibly shy but then when Jim comes around she finds that human communication is better than talking to her glass menagerie.

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Now one of Tennessee Williams‘s second symbolic props is the fire escape.

A fire escape is meant to help you escape from a burning building of course, but not in this case as in Laura’s, Tom’s and Amanda’s house this fire escape reinforces the idea of imprisonment as the fire symbolises lots of raging emotions and conflict between the following characters in the house. In the opening sentence it states ‘burning with slow and implacable fires of human desperation’ which means that they are ridden with felling that there is no escape from their painful and slow suffering. ...

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