What is the meaning of the title The Glass Menagerie?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title The Glass Menagerie brings to prominence the collection of figurines composed of delicate glass and shaped like animals that the equally delicate Laura owns. This title also helps to draw attention to the symbolism of the fragile glass animals who come to represent anything that is too delicate to last in the day-to-day outside world.

Because life is harsh and difficult for Laura, she has fabricated an imaginary world symbolized by the glass menagerie. Laura is even compared to the glass animals in the stage directions in Scene 6:

She is like a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance, not natural, not lasting. 

In a similar fashion, Amanda longs for the world of her youth, in which she was comfortable as a Southern belle. Tom desires a world that is beyond the mundane and trivial, escaping in books and at the picture shows (the movies).

Much like the glass menagerie, all three Wingfields prove to be unrealistic. They each hold another world in their minds, and, like the glass figures, it is a much too fragile world to last. Thus, the title of The Glass Menagerie helps to bring to the front the themes of illusions and impossible dreams.

Chantelm | Student

Laura who is one of the main characters own glass animals and she  cherishes and adorns them. She is crippled so she really doesn't have much to do so she cleans them all the time and cares for them extremely. She has a gentlemen caller over one day and he accidentally breaks the horn of the unicorn and it was one of her favorites. This was a big symbol in the story 

lit24 | Student

Tennessee Williams staged his play "The Glass Menagerie" in the year 1944 in Chicago.  The word 'menagerie' means a collection of wild animals kept privately or for the public to  view.

In the play Laura has her own private collection of glass animal dolls and the play is called "The Glass Menagerie" after Laura's collection of glass animal dolls. In Scene 7 Laura shows Jim the Gentleman Caller this  collection and remarks,

"most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie!"

These glass dolls are of symbolic importance in the play. They are a source of comfort to Laura who is a cripple and suffers from an inferiority complex because of this. Whenever she is upset or nervous she plays with these dolls to cheer herself up.

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The Glass Menagerie

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