The Symbolism of the Glass Menagerie

The Symbolism of the Glass Menagerie

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  • Date Submitted: 11/18/2008 6:36 PM
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Liberty University

The Symbolism of The Glass Menagerie

Submitted to Professor Yadu-Gyamfi
to fulfill the requirements for
English 102

February 2005

Martha A. English
Professor Yadu-Gyamfi
19 February 2005
The Symbolism of The Glass Menagerie

Symbolism in a play allows an audience to take away more from the play than just a story. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams may overwhelm us with symbols, but they are “employed effectively as organic elements in his poetic concept” (Durham 66). Like Tom in the play, Williams has “a poet’s weakness for symbols” (Cohn 465). Many of the symbols used in the play represent a type of escape from reality. Throughout the play, The Glass Menagerie, Williams uses the characters, the settings, the stories, and the props as symbols to give the play more dimensions.
In the first scene the first symbol is presented, the fire escape. The fire escape represents an entrance and exit to reality. For Tom, it is an exit from the nonrealistic world of Amanda, his mother, and Laura, his sister. It is also an entrance into the world of reality. For Laura it is the entrance into her “fancy” world so she can escape from reality. Throughout the play Tom goes out on the fire escape to smoke. This shows Tom’s longing to get out of the illusionary world through his potential means of escape. It is an escape from the fires of frustration and dysfunction in the Wingfield’s home. When he returns from the movies in Scene 4 he struggles to get up the stairs into the apartment, and has to have Laura assist him. This symbolizes his struggle with having to come back. The only reason he can is because of his love for his sister. On the other hand, Laura struggles to leave the apartment. Stepping out on the fire escape is stepping out of her safe-haven. When Amanda sends her out to the store, she falls down the fire escape. Her falling shows her inability to deal with reality. She must stay in her...

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