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Glass Menagerie


            In the Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams uses an extensive pattern of symbolism in his character development of Laura. This symbolism develops Laura into a very fragile, shy, and emotionally crippled girl. The dominant symbols that describe Laura include the fire escape, the glass menagerie, the unicorn, and rainbows. All these symbols serve to reveal deeper aspects of Laura and her relationship with the outside world. One recurrent symbol presented in the story is the fire escape. ""For Laura, the fire escape is where the gentleman caller enters and where the outside world is brought inside to her.""- (Kohn, 2) It is also, however, a path to the safe world inside, a world in which she can hide. It is symbolic that Laura does not want to open the door when Jim arrives. ""It shows her reluctance to let an emissary from the world of reality, symbolized by Jim, invade the comfortable non-existence of the apartment, and her insecurity in dealing with the outside world.""- (Daire, 1) Especially symbolic is Laura''s fall after leaving the security of the apartment to do a chore for her mother. ""This fall symbolizes Laura''s inability to function in society and the outside world.""- (Kohn, 1) It further shows Laura''s frailty and innocence. As proven by the play''s title, William''s uses Laura''s glass menagerie as an important symbol to represent her sensitive nature and fragility. Laura does not want to become involved with the world outside her apartment. ""She prefers the comfort of her home and of her glass animals.""- (Kohn, 1)Laura chooses to spend her time with her tiny glass animals, and she treasures them more than actually participating in daily contact with other people. ""She is very innocent, very much like the glass she polishes and looks at.""- (1) ""Even though it is very fragile, the glass shines, producing a multitude of colors in the light.""- (2) This is much like Laura herself.


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