Douaa El Sidawi Symbolism in the Glass Menagerie 1. In the novel, “The Glass Menagerie” the fire escape is a symbol for escaping reality. Tom seems to be the one who always needs to escape the reality of being trapped in his own home. Tom goes to the movies and gets drunk every night to escape reality and try and live in the “fake world” as he claims it is better then how he lives now. At the very beginning of scene one Tom narrates where the fire escape is The apartment faces an alley and is entered by a fire-escape, a structure whose name is a touch of accidental poetic truth, for all of these huge buildings are always burning with the slow and implacable fires of human desperation. (TGM, I, 3) explaining that the fire escape is used to getaway from the “fire”. The fire escape represents Tom more then any character in the book. For example, in scene four when Laura tries to leave the house she slips indicating that she is incapable of leaving her home. The fire escape symbolize Tom leaving the house, and trying to escape his responsibilities. 2. Laura’s limp symbolizes that she is a weak person. For example, she couldn’t handle going to her business class, she felt sick because of how nervous she felt to be in a class full of people. Laura’s glass animals symbolize how fragile she is and if she trusts the wrong person with it, it might break. Jim asks about the glass menagerie when Laura mentions it “Jim: What kind of glass is it? Laura: Little articles of it, they’re ornaments mostly! Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie!” (VII, 82). The glass animals symbolizes Laura by portraying her as “fragile” and “weak”.
Douaa El Sidawi 3. In scene seven, when Jim knocked off the unicron off the table this incident relates to breaking her heart. Ever since that incident everything has gone down hill “Jim: Aw, aw, aw. Is it broken? Laura: Now it is just like all the other horses.Jim: It’s lost its— Laura: Horn! It doesn’t matter...I don’t have favorites much...I’ll just imagine he had an operation. The horn was removed to make him feel less—freakish!” (VII, 86) this event shows that she is no longer that “freakish” girl but she is rather normal. When Jim was talking with Laura, she trusted him to hold the unicorn glass animal which he labeled was different then other horses which really meant he was different then other girls “In a very different way from anyone else.” (VII, 87). When Laura says “now the unicron will be like the other animals” (VII, 86) the playwright is indicating that she wasn’t anything special after all, and how heartbroken she was when she found out Jim was soon to be married. This incident also happens before he does a horrendous mistake of kissing her because that just led her on, she indicates that “Glass breaks so easily. No matter how careful you are.” (VII, 86). Overall, the unicorn represented Laura’s difference from other girls and her fragile heart which she trusted Jim with, but he ends up breaking it.