What is the symbolic and ironic significance of candlelight in contrast to lightning in scene 7 of "The Glass Menagerie"

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The candlelight is symbolic in several ways. 

The candlelight allows Jim and Laura to have a tender moment.  Ironically, the candlelight, which is romantic, does not serve the full purpose that it could have, Jim is already spoken for, therefore, even though he likes Laura, he can't pursue her. But the experience changes Laura forever, Jim reflects.

"The power of love is really pretty tremendous! Love is something that changes the whole world Laura!" (Williams, pg. 90) 

For Amanda, her darkness will only deepen once she realizes that Jim is not available to court Laura.  She will be further upset emotionally when she argues with her son, Tom, about Jim's status and then when he storms out, never to return to the family.

"Ohhhh!--how nice! Tom didn't mention that you were engaged to be married." (Williams, pg.93)

Tom, I believe is the character who is left completely in the dark.  At the end of the play,  Tom's final speech expresses his despair and the darkness that surrounds him.

"I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something.  It always came upon me unawares, taking me altogether by surprise.  Oh Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!  I run into a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger, anything that can blow your candles out." (Williams, pg. 97) 

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The Glass Menagerie

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