Fragile and Helpless
Tennessee Williams wrote The Glass Menagerie in 1944. The play represents his upbringing in the south, and also exhibits the role of women and their place in society. Both women in The Glass Menagerie are viewed as somewhat helpless, Laura especially. She is the main character in the story, and completely embodies the way women were seen back then. She is fragile and helpless, but at the same time is gentle and romantic.
Laura is both physically and emotionally fragile. She is handicapped, which takes her situation that much further. Sarote analyzes this and takes the example of her reaction to her glass unicorn breaking. “Laura cries out as if wounded” demonstrates how fragile she is (Sarote). Laura is also extremely hesitant throughout the play, especially when she is speaking, as her speech is somewhat broken, as if she may break at any time. In his criticism, Greiff says that towards the end of the play “Laura has been torn from her fantasy world to become a figure without imaginative protection”, that protection being both her glass animals, and her dreams, mainly of a romance with Tom (Greiff). Throughout the play she is fragile, and at the end, she is broken. At the end of the play, Tom states “Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful then I intended to be!” (Williams) Tom views himself as Laura’s protector, a stable supporter, like the shelf that holds her glass animals and keeps them from falling. Stein does a wonderful job in comparing Laura’s fragility to her glass menagerie: it “embodies the fragility of Laura’s world, registers so sensitively any changes in lighting, and stands in vivid contrast to the harshness of the outside world, the so-called world of reality which can shatter it so easily” (Stein).
Laura is romantic about several things in her life: her brother, her high school crush, and most of all her glass collection. Many young girls are whimsical and romantic...