What is the meaning of the title The Glass Menagerie?
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,...
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The title The Glass Menagerie is a literal reference to Laura's collection of glass figurines, which are shiny but fragile, and they must be handled delicately. It is a fitting title for the play because each of the three main characters are similarly shiny but fragile.
Amanda is the shiniest, with her constant performing. She is always concerned with what others may think as she longs for her younger days, which were on an elaborate plantation. She was brought up to sort of put on a show and hide away all of her authentic emotions. Throughout the play, Amanda longs for her youth and hopes to live vicariously through Laura's gentlemen callers, of which there aren't any until Jim at the end.
Laura appears to be fragile like a piece of glass. She is so socially awkward that she gets physically sick and vomits just because a teacher calls her name in class. Tennessee Williams wants the audience to feel sorry for Laura, but also recognize that she is special in her own way. After all, she ends up spending her days in museums and such. Her shyness stems from her heavy limp, which she has inflated in her mind. It's an inferiority complex, like Jim points out. But Laura is like the unicorn in her collection because she is different from all the others, which makes her both beautiful and easy to break.
Then there's Tom. He likes to push his mother's buttons and his love for his sister is sincere. He is fragile because he could break at any moment. Tom is full of rage that is pounding to get out. He works a thankless job for the money to take care of his family, which is good, but it's also eating away at him. He presents the front to the family that he will stay and give them the money they need to survive, all the while making plans to work as a shipman on boats. One day he will disappear and he does.
The three Wingfields show just how beautiful and fragile they are in their actions and interactions with one another. This makes the title The Glass Menagerie a perfect fit. They are like the delicate collection Laura keeps.