The Glass Menagerie is a play authored by Tennessee Williams. It tells the story of a family which is leaving in illusion which they use to escape from the real world. The plot revolves around the character Laura who owns a glass menagerie which she uses to escape from the realities of her life. Her personality is totally different from the other characters. Amanda sees her daughter as a big disappointment and after refusing to go to school because of her shyness, she decides to seek for her a suitor who could marry Laura. The glass menagerie which is her source of pride and joy is used as a motif to represent her delicate, old fashion, quite and strange lifestyle. However, Laura’s life revolves around the glass menagerie which carries her animals. It is hard for her to live a realistic life because of her obsession with it. It is what she uses to escape the troubles from home and also from school plus societal expectations. Laura’s glass menagerie could have been her pride and joy, but it would have been healthier if her mother had destroyed it years ago.
The glass menagerie was used by Laura to store all the animals that she had collected. This may symbolize that it acted as the storage for all the valuables in her life. For instance, it was the place where she could go and release her frustrations especially when annoyed or angry. The glass menagerie may also symbolize the closed lifestyle of Laura. Just like the animals which were closed in the menagerie and their movement limited, the same happened to her. Laura was as quiet as the animals she stored and knew nothing about the world apart from the menagerie which she considered as her pride and joy. She is as strange around people as the animals which she stores. The world outside is as susceptible to her illusions as the animals themselves. At the same time, the menagerie also represented the imaginative world which she was living. She lived in a world of illusions and also a fragile lifestyle just like the glass menagerie which needed special care or else it would break down into pieces. Despite her childhood illness that might have contributed to her shyness and closed lifestyle, Laura’s mental state deteriorates because of her collection of glass menageries. It makes her have inferiority complex which makes her isolate herself from the rest of the world.
It is anticipated that Laura’s life could have been better if her mother could have destroyed the glass menagerie early enough instead of encouraging her to keep the animals. Her life was totally surrounded by the menagerie showing that it destroyed her instead of making her life better. She could not face anyone or even talk directly to people in school but could speak and communicate with her menagerie. This means that the menagerie enhanced her lifestyle of illusion making her condition worse than ever.
On the other hand, destroying the glass menagerie could have also symbolized destroying her bad habits. Amanda was disappointed in the way in which her daughter carried herself and the fact that she escaped from school (Saddik 112). However, she did nothing much to shape her lifestyle into the life that she wanted to see her live. Rather, she went ahead to seek for her a suitor to marry her something which made even the situation worse especially after Jim disappointed Laura. If Amanda could her destroyed the menagerie, perhaps Laura could have not lived in a life of illusion. She could have been more open to the world because there was nothing which could have kept her busy. Her source of pride could have been life itself or even trying to make her life better by looking for something that could keep her busy.
It is revealed in the play that Laura had a different side which was hidden to everyone. She had strong and beautiful personality which could only be seen when particular people looked into her differently. On the other hand, there are instances when her positive personality was revealed. It means that if the glass menagerie could have been destroyed, her true identity could have been realized. Laura is shy because she chooses to but that does not reflect her true identity. For instance, the readers see her opening up to Jim and revealing to him that she had a crush on him while they were in high school. This shows that Laura is capable of loving a person even though she does it secretly (Lyle 101). However, it is because of lack of strong connection with people that she loved that might have contributed to her shy, fragile and silent personality.
The fact that Laura revealed to Jim about the name which seemingly he had forgotten shows that her memories are in contact and she is able to recall everything that has happen to her life even the past. It reveals that Laura is not as stupid as she is depicted in the play. She goes to the point of showing Jim her favorite unicorn animal in the glass and dances with him. Even when she broke the glass she ended up forgiving him showing that Laura indeed had a heart which was strongly hidden by the glass menagerie. Without the menagerie her low self-esteem could have been boosted.
In conclusion, Laura’s glass menagerie could have been her pride and joy, but it would have been healthier if her mother had destroyed it years ago. There was a need to destroy the menagerie because it made her live in a life of illusion and a fragile lifestyle which did not reflect her true identity.
Lyle, Leverich. Tennessee Williams. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1997.
Saddik, Annette. Glass Menagerie: The Politics of Reputation: The Critical Reception of Tennessee Williams. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1999.