The Glass Menagerie

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Laura Wingfield Character Analysis

Tom’s sister and Amanda’s daughter. Laura is deeply fragile, both emotionally and physically: she is painfully shy, and a childhood illness has left one leg slightly shorter than the other, making her walk with a limp. The glass menagerie of the title refers to Laura’s prized collection that she carefully polishes and rearranges. Laura herself is as delicate, beautiful, and otherworldly as her miniature animals, and she retreats from the anxiety of social interactions and the pressures of daily life by slipping into a fantasy world populated with beautiful, immortal objects: she goes walking in the park, visits the zoo and the greenhouses, plays the Victrola, and immerses herself in her glass collection. Her nickname, “Blue Roses,” derives from Jim’s mishearing of “pleurosis,” the disease that left her crippled. Both Tom and Jim see Laura as like a blue rose, exotic and frail in her rarity. Yet despite her fragility, Laura does not willfully delude herself about the nature of her reality. She accepts her leg injury and her shyness without trying to pretend that she is another version of herself. When she confesses her schoolgirl crush for Jim O’Connor before he enters the play as the Gentleman Caller, she does not spin a wild fantasy life of wedded bliss between herself and Jim, but rather presents the memory as though it were a glass animal itself, a beautiful but immobile creature. Indeed, although Laura is symbolically linked with the fragile glass and the exotic Blue Roses, she may have the most strength and willpower of anyone in the play. Laura serves as peacemaker between Tom and Amanda, soothing both parties and helping to mend some of the wounds. When Tom escapes at the end of the play, he realizes that as far as he goes, he can never abandon Laura: “Oh, Laura, Laura,” Tom exclaims, “I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!”

Laura Wingfield Quotes in The Glass Menagerie

The The Glass Menagerie quotes below are all either spoken by Laura Wingfield or refer to Laura Wingfield. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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Scene 1 Quotes

Resume your seat, little sister—I want you to stay fresh and pretty—for gentleman callers!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield
Scene 2 Quotes

Fifty dollars’ tuition, all of our plans—my hopes and ambitions for you—just gone up the spout, just gone up the spout like that.

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield

I went in the art museum and the bird houses at the Zoo...Lately I’ve been spending most of my afternoons in the Jewel Box, that big glass house where they raise the tropical flowers.

Related Characters: Laura Wingfield (speaker)
Related Symbols: Glass Menagerie

What is there left but dependency all our lives? I know so well what becomes of unmarried women who aren’t prepared to occupy a position. I’ve seen such pitiful cases in the South—barely tolerated spinsters living upon the grudging patronage of sister’s husband or brother’s wife!—stuck away in some little mousetrap of a room—encouraged by one in-law to visit another—little birdlike women without any nest—eating the crust of humility all their life!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield
Scene 4 Quotes

But the wonderfullest trick of all was the coffin trick. We nailed him into a coffin and he got out of the coffin without removing one nail. [He has come inside.] There is a trick that would come in handy for me—get me out of this two-by-four situation!...You know it don’t take much intelligence to get yourself into a nailed-up coffin, Laura. But who in hell ever got himself out of one without removing one nail?

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield

Try and you will succeed! [The notion makes her breathless.] Why, you—you’re just full of natural endowments! Both of my children—they’re unusual children! Don’t you think I know it? I’m so—proud!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Tom Wingfield, Laura Wingfield
Scene 5 Quotes

No girl can do worse than put herself at the mercy of a handsome appearance!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield

[Laura] lives in a world of her own—a world of little glass ornaments, Mother...

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield

Amanda: A little silver slipper of a moon. Look over your left shoulder, Laura, and make a wish! ... Now! Now, darling, wish!
Laura: What shall I wish for, Mother?
Amanda [her voice trembling, and her eyes suddenly filling with tears]: Happiness! Good fortune!

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield (speaker)
Scene 6 Quotes

A fragile, unearthly prettiness has come out in Laura: she is like a piece of translucent glass touched by light, given a momentary radiance, not actual, not lasting.

Related Characters: Laura Wingfield

All girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and men expect them to be.

Related Characters: Amanda Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield
Scene 7 Quotes

Jim lights a cigarette and leans indolently back on his elbows smiling at Laura with a warmth and charm which lights her inwardly with altar candles.

Related Characters: Laura Wingfield, Jim O’Connor

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!...Oh, be careful—if you breathe, it breaks!...There now—you’re holding him gently! Hold him over the light, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him?

Related Characters: Laura Wingfield (speaker), Jim O’Connor (speaker)

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!

Related Characters: Laura Wingfield (speaker), Jim O’Connor (speaker)

They’re common as—weeds, but—you—well, you’re—Blue Roses!

Related Characters: Jim O’Connor (speaker), Laura Wingfield

The window is filled with pieces of colored glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colors, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes. Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield

For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura—and so goodbye...

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Laura Wingfield
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Laura Wingfield Character Timeline in The Glass Menagerie

The timeline below shows where the character Laura Wingfield appears in The Glass Menagerie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 1
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Abandonment Theme Icon
...tells the audience about the four characters in the play—himself, his mother Amanda, his sister Laura, and a man named Jim they knew from high school—and adds that the father is... (full context)
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Tom enters the apartment and joins Amanda and Laura at the dining-room table. The words “Ou sont les neiges” [“Where are the snows”] are... (full context)
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Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
...clearly told many, many times before. The lights dim and music begins to play. At Laura’s gentle urging, Tom mechanically plays along, asks his mother questions about the story, as though... (full context)
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Amanda suggests that Laura practice her typing as she waits for gentleman callers to arrive. The music of “The... (full context)
Scene 2
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An image of blue roses appears on the screen. Laura sits in the apartment, polishing her menagerie of glass figures. When she hears Amanda ascending... (full context)
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...American Revolution (D.A.R.) meetings: cheap velvet coat, outdated hat, outsized pocketbook. She looks upset, and Laura becomes visibly nervous and guilty. Amanda tears the keyboard diagram and typewriting alphabet in two. (full context)
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Amanda tells Laura that she stopped by the business college where Laura has supposedly been enrolled. One of... (full context)
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Amanda wonders what will become of Laura, now that her career opportunities have been ruined, and warns her about spinsters dependent on... (full context)
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Amanda asks whether Laura has ever liked a boy, and Laura admits that she once had a crush on... (full context)
Scene 3
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...become obsessed with the idea that a gentleman caller must come to the house for Laura, and an image of a young man carrying flowers appears on the screen. Tom says... (full context)
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Tom and Amanda are heard arguing behind curtains hanging over a door. Laura is standing in front of them, and throughout Tom and Amanda’s entire argument, the light... (full context)
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...curtains over the dining room door open, and he and Amanda continue to fight as Laura watches helplessly. The typewriter and Tom’s manuscripts are scattered across the dining room. Tom attempts... (full context)
Scene 4
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...an empty bottle spill out of his pockets as he fumbles for his door key. Laura opens the door for Tom, and he tells her about the movies and about a... (full context)
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...bell tolls six times and Amanda calls out her customary “Rise and Shine!” She asks Laura to relay the message to Tom, as they are still not speaking. Laura begs Tom... (full context)
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Amanda turns the discussion to Laura, and “The Glass Menagerie” theme begins to play. Amanda says that she has caught Laura... (full context)
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Amanda tells Tom that they have to make “plans and provisions” for Laura. She knows that he has received a letter from the merchant marines and that he... (full context)
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Amanda asks Tom to bring home a gentleman from the warehouse to introduce to Laura, and as he leaves the apartment, Tom reluctantly agrees. Still troubled but faintly hopeful, Amanda... (full context)
Scene 5
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Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
...is that the gentleman caller must not be a drinker, as she does not want Laura married to a drinker, which Tom sees as a little premature. (full context)
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Tom tells Amanda that he hasn’t told Jim about Laura: he just invited Jim over for a family dinner without any qualifications. Amanda is convinced... (full context)
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Tom leaves for the movies, and Amanda calls Laura to the front room. She points out the moon to Laura, turns her toward it,... (full context)
Scene 6
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...is amused by his writing rather than resentful or hostile. Tom knows that Jim and Laura knew each other, but doubts that Jim remembers Laura. (full context)
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...for the gentleman caller, Amanda has transformed the apartment with lampshades and curtains. She dresses Laura, who is visibly nervous, in a soft, pretty dress, and stuffs “Gay Deceivers” in Laura’s... (full context)
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When Laura learns that the caller is none other than Jim O’Connor, the boy she loved in... (full context)
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Tom and Jim arrive and ring the doorbell. Laura is terrified and begs Amanda to open the door, but Amanda refuses, forcing Laura to... (full context)
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After awkwardly greeting Jim, Laura dashes to the Victrola and then through the portieres. Tom explains that Laura is terribly... (full context)
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...young Southern belle. Amanda puts on her girlish mannerisms and thick Southern drawl. She praises Laura to Jim and recounts stories about her coquettish youth. (full context)
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Amanda sends Tom to fetch Laura for supper, but Tom returns and announces that Laura is not well and will not... (full context)
Scene 7
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Laura is still lying on the sofa, beautiful in the dim lamplight. As dinner is finished,... (full context)
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...a bottle of dandelion wine, instructing him to go to the living room and keep Laura company. Jim speaks to Laura gently and lightly. The incident is much more fraught and... (full context)
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Jim sets the candles on the floor, sits on the floor as well, and urges Laura to join him. As he chews a piece of gum, he talks about the Century... (full context)
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Laura asks Jim if he has kept up with his singing, and she reminds him that... (full context)
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Laura and Jim leaf through the high school yearbook, The Torch. Laura admits that she had... (full context)
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Jim asks Laura what she has done since high school, and she starts to explain that her glass... (full context)
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Laura tells Jim about her glass animals. She hands him the unicorn, her favorite, to hold.... (full context)
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Jim and Laura hear waltz music from the Paradise Dance Hall. Despite Laura’s protests, Jim leads her in... (full context)
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Jim tells Laura that she is as uncommon as blue roses and says that someone ought to kiss... (full context)
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Jim confesses to Laura that he is engaged to Betty, an Irish Catholic like himself. Laura is disconsolate, but... (full context)
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...glass on the floor and bursts onto the fire escape. Inside the house, Amanda holds Laura in her arms, stroking her hair. Tom delivers a passionate, emotionally fraught closing monologue. He... (full context)