The Glass Menagerie

In his play, “The Glass Managerie’, Tennessee Williams uses the imagery of a glass unicorn to help convey the emotional anguish of the character, Laura. The unicorn symbolizes Laura’s feelings of being “freakish” (scene seven) which has made her a recluse.
It is in the second scene that the author begins to reveal Laura’s obsession with her glass collection. Laura is lying back gazing into a crystal and seems to be lost in her own private world when she suddenly hears her mother approaching. It is obvious that her mother, Amanda, has berated Laura many times about her preoccupation with the glass. We know this because Laura panics at the prospect of her mother finding her at it again. Once we have seen Amanda’s tirade about Laura dropping out of business school, Laura’s state seems licit. The glass in this scene seems to be Laura’s hopes and dreams of another life. She hasn’t the courage to live a normal sociable life, but her fantasy world of the glass menagerie fulfills her need for more than the confines of the apartment.
Later, in scene three, Amanda’s critical remarks toward her son, Tom, provokes an argument. Laura nearly cowers as she watches her brother and mother yell at one another. It is in this scene that Tom accidentally breaks some of Laura’s precious glass collection as he rushes out the door. When Tom turns to pick-up the glass, he is unable to express his remorse for having shattered something so precious to his sister. The symbolism of the glass in this scene seems to represent Laura’s emotions. The author directs that she remain in plain view, even though she doesn’t speak, so that the audience can see her suffer through the heated argument. As the audience watches her agony, they will begin to feel some of the anguish that Laura undergoes. Laura feels at fault for the tension in the house, knowing that most of her mother’s worry comes from Laura’s neediness. When the glass shatters, it represents the shattered …


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