Are there Bibilical allusions to Jesus's life in "The Glass Menagerie"?  

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Religious symbols and allusions are fairly subtle in Scene 5 and 6 of "The Glass Menagerie."  For one, the "gentleman caller" announcement by Tom begins with the legend "Annunciation," an allusion to the angel's Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would bear a son, Jesus.  Of course, the gentleman caller is perceived by Amanda as a savior for Laura who has no skills and must be dependent upon a man's care.  As her mother puts the finishing touches on Laura's dress, Laura is seen with uplifted arms and a light shines on her "unearthly prettiness" in this "momentary radiance." Production notes describe Laura as having "a peculiar pristine clarity, such as light used in the early religious portraits of female saints and madonnas." Amanda is described as crouching before her--as one in worship?--"adjusting the hem...devout and ritualistic." 

In Christian scriptures Jesus as the savior is presented as the light of the world, so the use of lighting can suggest religious overtones.  For instance, when Jim lights a cigarette and leans back, smiling at Laura, Williams describes her as being light "inwardly with altar candles." Later, these "holy candles in the altar of LAURA'S face have been snuffed out" when Jim informs her that he is engaged.

Thus, Jim is unable to serve as savior.  Instead of offering Laura the bread and wine of the sacraments, he offers her wine and chewing gum.  His sermon is not religious; instead, he preaches a secular gospel of self-help.  Finally, he abandons Laura for another, leaving her alone to blow out the candles of her altar.  These religious symbols and allusions, therefore, serve subltely to add to the false hopes of the characters, thereby enhancing the pessimism of the play.

troutmiller's profile pic

troutmiller | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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I've never heard that, but I can see where you might be able to make that connection.  The main symbol in this story is the glass collection--chiefly the unicorn.  Because it is made of glass, it is fragile just like Laura.  However, she is both physically and emotionally fragile.  But the symbolism doesn't have to stop there. When the horn of the unicorn breaks off, Laura sees how it becomes "normal," and similar to the regular horses since it doesn't have something to make it stand out. So, being broken makes it normal--just like the other glass horses.  (it is her way of trying to feel normal by being "broken" too)

Like the unicorn, Christ was "broken" when crucified--he was killed just like all the men before him who had gone against "the law."  Or you can look at it as God breaking himself down into Jesus--in the form of a man to be closer to "normalcy" here on earth.  Honestly, you could make it work if you had to, but I don't see any other possible allusion.

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