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Three Important Symbols in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Three Important Symbols in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

In Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, the narrator is used to reveal elements of Williams’ own life as a victim of the Depression in the 1930s. Williams does this through his eloquent use of symbolism. Three symbols seem to reveal Williams’ intent especially accurately; the unicorn, the picture of Mr. Wingfield, and Malvolio’s coffin trick.

The unicorn is a symbolic representation of ways that Laura is unique or unusual. The first facet of the unicorn, its horn, refers to ways that Laura is an unusual person, such as in her may escape mechanisms. Laura’s escape devices include her glass menagerie, list…

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…ness in the Plays of

Tennessee Williams. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University, 1997.

Presley, Delma. The Glass Menagerie: An American Memory. Boston: Twayne,


Williams, Tennessee. “The Glass Menagerie”. New York: Random House, 1985.

Illusion vs. Reality in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie

Illusion vs. Reality in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, contains multiple themes. While there are many themes, the theme that holds the piece together is illusion versus reality.

This theme is established very quickly, In fact, the first paragraph of the play describes the illusions to take place, “But I am the opposite of a stage musician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion” (1866). During Tom’s monologue, he discusses the premise of the play; when it takes place, who the characters are, and how the play is to be perceived (as a memory). His reference to illusion is not used as to describe any of the plays specific events, but rather to subtly give weight to the plays ideas. Although the play itself is an illusion of reality, Tom says that there is truth behind the illusion. We use this as a sort of flashlight as we enter the play. We shine it around, looking for the truth Tom speaks of. We also seek the plays realities and illusions. Williams, by stating this idea in the beginning, focuses the readers mind into such a state that he will unconsciously look for what Williams knows is already there– the conflict of reality versus illusion.

We will look at the characters one by one, determining each of their realities and illusions. This will help to establish why Williams chose this as a central theme, and what the resolution of these ideas are. Because Amanda plays such a large part in the play, we will start with her. Amanda’s life is much illusion. She establishes this right away when she begins to reminisce of the south and her nume…

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…rld of Tennessee Williams. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965.

Jolemore, Nancy. “Lecture Notes and Study Guide Questions for Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie.” Old Dominion University. 18 January

2000. 29 June 2000. .

Kolin, Philip C. Tennessee Williams: A Guide to Research and Performance. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Presley, Delma E. An American Memory. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1990.

Reser, Rob. “A Touch of Glass.” 29 June 2000. .

Roudane, Matthew C. The Cambridge Companion to Tennessee Williams. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Williams, Tennessee. “The Glass Menagerie.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 1999. pp.1865-1908.

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