Moy 1 Shelly Moy M. Ragan ENG 122 AL November 14, 2002"Outshined Ugliness" Life is a lonely tale of alienation, as Tennessee Williams conveys though his play, "The Glass Menagerie." Williams surrounds Laura in isolation from a world in which they wish to belong to by using various symbols. The symbolic nature of the motifs hidden within the lines of this play provides meaning to the theme found consistent throughout the play: Individuals are all alone in the world. Williams brilliantly illuminates the idea of isolation through the symbolic use of glass.
The symbolism of the glass is directly connected with the character of Laura. Similar to glass Laura is extremely fragile, her soul and image faces the possibility of being easily damaged and destroyed. Her character is tragically transparent as it is simple to decipher. However, glass objects, unlike a painting or photograph, have three dimensions.
It is possible to examine every side of Laura's fragile character, just as it is a glass figurine. Laura is trapped into a mold of glass, unable to move or break from its pattern; she is trapped in her own world of alienation. Yet, in a different light, glass reflects a rainbow of personality and beauty. Similar to the rainbow given off by glass Laura aids characters in achieving a sense of beautiful and colorful self-awareness.
Williams contrasts light and dark to bring attention to Laura's isolation from the world, and illuminate it as moments of the beauty that exists in human differences. The candlelight that flickers during a moment between Laura and Jim suggest images of human beauty and individuality. The candlelight seems to "light her inwardly" (Williams 1846) and symbolically shadows her disability, as Williams vividly describes in a side note of the play. The scene thereafter illuminates Moy 2 how a unicorn is tragically different from all other animals in Laura's collection.
At the Paradise Dance Hall al glass sphere slowly turned from the ceiling in a different delicate rainbow of colors suggesting a joyful moment. This symbolized another beautiful moment as Laura and Jim dance together, uniting two separate flames to create many colors of the rainbow. Laura's physical problems provide more alienation to her character and greater meaning to the central theme that individuals are all alone in the world. Laura's handicap is the greatest characteristic of her loneliness.
"I had a brace on my leg-it clumped so loud!" Laura blames her slowness upon her brace and is self conscious about how loud it is. Yet Jim claims, "I never heard any clumping" (Williams 1846). Laura was the only person who realized and continues to recognize her handicap. It causes her to stand out from the others, surrounding her. She finds it to be completely alienating, which separates her from the rest of the world.
Jim interprets Laura's handicap as something beautiful. He finds her character unique and attractive. She is different and far from normal. In contrast Laura sees the differences as bad and unattractive. She fails to recognize that it is her inner flame which emits an individualistic beauty; her handicap is outshined by possibility. Williams provides Laura with a disability to further illuminate the theme of being alone in the world.
The glass animals provide final symbolism and further evidence of symbolism of individualism. Laura places the highest value up on her glass animals. The animals play an essential role in Laura's life, as they are only part of her life that she can control. She is victim to a handicap and a delusional mother. The animals allow her to have minimal power over a small puzzle piece of her life. The animals seem to depend upon Laura as she explains to Jim that "Glass is something you have to take good care of" (Williams 1846).
They symbolism of easily breakable glass gleams in Laura's character. She realized how easily the pieces break and it is up to her to Moy 3 protect them, unlike herself who has no protector and is alone. The tiny size of the figurines also contributes to the theme of how alone and small people are in the world. During a symbolically tragic scene of realization, the differences that separate and alienate Laura and Jim are carefully united. By accident Jim breaks off the horn of Laura's glass unicorn.
The injury to the delicate figurine causes a transformation from an imaginative unicorn to a very realistic horse. She is not upset that her favorite price is broken because it brings the unicorn a level down to reality, and causes him to abandon alienation and join all the other animals in a bland world far from imaginative. "Horn! It doesn't matter. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise... The horn was removed to make him feel less freakish" (Williams 1849). Laura symbolically reveals her desire to be like everyone else, her desire to break away from her handicap is illuminated in the unicorn.
She would prefer not to be alone in the world; it would be a blessing for her to be normal. Through symbols of glass, light, a handicap and a glass menagerie Williams provides Laura with reason to outshine her supposed ugliness and recognize an inner beauty. Laura causes her own isolation from the world but later accepts it as something unique. She finally embraces her isolation and becomes self aware with a flicker of happiness. Her tiny glass animals seem so small and delicate as she is. They can easily break as Laura can.
Through isolation Laura is protected from breaking in a cruel dark world and can live happily in her own world of illumination. MOY 4 WORKS CITED Williams, Tennessee. "The Glass Menagerie." Literature Reading, Reacting, Writing. Laurie Kirshner. Stephen Mandell. 4 th edition.
Sea Harbor: Harcourt College Publishers. 2001. 1805-1854.