Tennessee Williams uses many situations, characters and objects as symbols. Two of these objects are the glass menagerie and the glass unicorn. It can be said, because of the title of the play, that the glass menagerie is the central symbol and also due to its repeated appearance along the story. The collection of glass animals represents Laura’s nature because like the menagerie, Laura is delicate, unique and beautiful to those who know how to see her. As the menagerie, the unicorn has a lot of meaning because it particularly represents Laura due to its unusualness and loneliness and after it brakes, it shows how Laura changes.
When Tom fights with Amanda on scene three, Laura is present all the time and hears what they tell each other. Because of her fragile nature, she feels somehow hurt by their words even if it is not directly about her, when Tom goes infuriated, out of the house, and hits Laura’s collection with his coat, she shatters as the glass: “With an outraged groan he tears the coat off again, splitting the shoulder of it, and hurls it across the room.
It strikes against the shelf of Laura’s glass collection, and there is a tinkle of shattering glass. Laura cries out as if wounded.
Not knowing that the glass menagerie is the most important thing for Laura, no one minds it braking or pays attention to her when she cries out, also showing the arrogance and selfishness from the other characters: “LAURA: [shrilly]: My glass! —menagerie…. [She covers her face and turns away. ] [But Amanda is still stunned and stupefied by the “ugly witch” so that she barely notices this occurrence […]] Particularly on scene seven, a comparison can be made between Laura and the glass figures, which seen with the proper light and perspective show beautiful colors as Laura’s beautifulness is shown with the light of the lamp.
Also on the introduction to the scene, Laura is described as she receives the light from the new floor lamp while she is in the sofa: “The new floor lamp with its shade of rose-colored silk gives a soft, becoming light to her face, bringing out the fragile, unearthly prettiness which usually escapes attention. ” The symbolism of the glass unicorn is related specifically to Laura and her change from being unique, lonely and special to being just like the other horses.
When she is talking to Jim and shows him the glass unicorn she describes it the following way: “Go on, I trust you with him! [She places the piece in his palm. ] There now—you’re holding him gently! Hold him over the light, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him? ” After knowing that it is a unicorn, Jim says: “Unicorns—aren’t they extinct in the modern world? ” not only unicorns are extinct but also girls like Laura who are shy and not common like everyone else.
And like the unicorn Laura is lonely in a world full of “horses” “Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome. ” We can conclude that Tennessee Williams uses the glass menagerie and the unicorn to represent characters and emotions, but specially to represent Laura due to her fragileness and the fact that she is different from the rest of society not only physically but emotionally as well. It is important to recognize the symbols to know the characters and their actions better.
Cite this Symbolism of the Unicorn in the Glass Menagerie
Symbolism of the Unicorn in the Glass Menagerie. (2017, Feb 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/symbolism-of-the-unicorn-in-the-glass-menagerie/