Would you discuss three main symbols from "The Glass Menagerie" in relation to at least two characters from the play?

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The glass menagerie itself is Laura's make-believe world she creates to escape from the hard realities of life. When the unicorn, her favourite piece, loses its horn this symbolises Laura losing - at least in part - her inferiority complex of being "different." She does not win Jim but she gains self-confidence by demystifying him as a hero type and approaching him as an ordinary person. She also becomes less fragile, having learned to "lose" graciously.

Laura's limp is another symbol of her stalemate situation. Laura is trapped within her own perimeter, not venturing much beyond the Wingfield apartment. When Jim invites Laura to dance and she accepts despite her handicap, she has taken a giant step ahead in self-actualization. When she stumbles, knocking over the crystal unicorn, this act cannot be disassociated from her choice to dance despite her sluggish foot. She steps beyond her former limits and breaks out of her deprecatory self-image.

Another symbol often overlooked is the "serious conversation" and honest dialogue Laura has with Jim as opposed to her mother's fluttering one-liners in her "art of conversation." Laura strives to be real and sincere, even if she does not have all the flounty pizzaz of Amanda. She even resists wearing the "gay deceivers," rightfully acknowledging that "it's like setting a trap."

The fire escape and the movies are symbols of Tom's need to escape inertia and his "two-by-four" situation. Not without cause, Tom wants to join the Merchant Marines and get on with life elsewhere - anywhere - but "home." Family obligations literally tie him down. Ironically, getting fired by writing poetry on a shoebox helps him get to his goal.

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The Glass Menagerie

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