Symbolic illustration of Laura's hands holding a glass unicorn

The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams
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How is Laura’s physical characteristics significant to her characterization?

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Laura's physical condition is significant for a couple of reasons in relation to Laura's character.  Initially, Laura's limp reflects a personal difference that Laura has from the rest of the world.  The brace on her leg to help with the limp is something about which she feels conscious.  This is significant because it shows feels fundamentally different from others in the world.  She is not entirely comfortable with her difference, as her physical condition reflects this.  At the same time, her body is frail, something that reminds her that the world can be overpowering to those who lack the physical ability to endure such pressure.  For the most part, Laura is shown as a character at odds with the world in terms of being different from it and her physical frailness is a part of this.  Laura is not someone who is immediately embraced for her physical condition and state, something that someone like Amanda will never understand.  It is evident that Laura will not experience "gentlemen callers" like Amanda did because of her own physical appearance and state that make this difficult.  In this, Laura's physicality is a reflection of how she will not be fully embraced by a world that lacks understanding and a sense of inclusion within it.  Williams uses Laura's physical differences to establish how the world is not a force that seeks to include and embrace those who are different, but rather cast them on the outside to be looking in.

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