I'm looking for symbols or symbolic representations connected to 'death' or 'fear of death' in The Glass Menagerie.Death in references to proper names, actions, scenes, or intertextual content. Any...

I'm looking for symbols or symbolic representations connected to 'death' or 'fear of death' in The Glass Menagerie.

Death in references to proper names, actions, scenes, or intertextual content. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Scene 2 of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, Amanda asks her family, "So what are we going to do with the rest of our lives?" With a disgruntled son who hates his job and a frightfully timid daughter who cannot exist in the working world, Amanda worries about her own and her children's futures.  And, because the present holds no promise, there is a pall of death over the days of their lives, symbolized by the portrait of the departed and possibly deceased Mr. Wingfield that looms over them.

In order to escape this lack of promise for the future, the personages of Williams's play escape in various ways; however, these ways hold much of death in them. For instance, Amanda often revisits the past and alludes to her many gentleman callers, and she frequently turns to the photograph of her departed husband, a reminder of their past. Clinging to the past, she even wears his old bathrobe at times.  Even when a gentleman caller comes for Laura, Amanda emerges in a dress from years ago, coquettishly chattering about her gentlemen callers and acting as though she herself is young.

With Laura, all that she holds dear is from the past.  For example, she plays the old records that her father left behind; she dawdles with the glass menagerie which has been hers for years.  In fact, she herself is described "like glass" in the Scene 6 stage directions: "she is like a piece of translucent glass" Any real life that she has had is in the past:  The only boy that she has liked is one from high school--Jim--who called her "Blue Roses."  In fact, while he has dinner with the Wingfields, Jim in Scene 7 says that Laura is an "old-fashioned type of girl."

But, Jim is "not made of glass" as he tells Laura; and, unlike her, he has dreams:

"...I've already made the right connections and all that remains is for the industry itself to get under way!  Full steam---"

Clearly, the Wingfields live in the past in a life of desperation with only dreams for a future.  Constantly, Tom is haunted that he will be like his father; his mother accuses him, "You live in a dream; you manufacture illusions!" (Scene 7).  And, in this last scene, the characters sit in a dark apartment, like the darkness of death.  After Tom has left and he looks in at Amanda and Laura at the end of the play, he tells Laura to "Blow out your candles, Laura...and so goodbye....

 

 

 

 

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