The Glass Menagerie

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Glass Menagerie Symbol Analysis

Glass Menagerie Symbol Icon
The title of the play, and the play’s most prominent symbol, the glass menagerie represents Laura’s fragility, otherworldliness, and tragic beauty. The collection embodies Laura’s imaginative world, her haven from society. The old-fashioned, somewhat childlike, timeless nature of the menagerie further highlights Tom’s depiction of Laura as a figure who exists outside the traditional confines of time and space. The glass menagerie also represents the vulnerability of memory and of dream worlds: one false move and the entire shimmering universe can shatter. The idea of a “glass menagerie” becomes representative for anything that is too beautiful and too fragile to survive in harsh reality.
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Glass Menagerie Symbol Timeline in The Glass Menagerie

The timeline below shows where the symbol Glass Menagerie appears in The Glass Menagerie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 2
Memory Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...image of blue roses appears on the screen. Laura sits in the apartment, polishing her menagerie of glass figures. When she hears Amanda ascending the fire escape stairs, she hastily puts... (full context)
Scene 3
Abandonment Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...and throws it across the room, where it smashes into the shelf holding the glass menagerie and breaks several of the animals. (full context)
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Music begins to play. Laura shrieks, “My glass!––menagerie...” Amanda, stunned, declares that she will not speak to Tom until he apologizes. Tom awkwardly... (full context)
Scene 4
Abandonment Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
Amanda turns the discussion to Laura, and “The Glass Menagerie” theme begins to play. Amanda says that she has caught Laura crying because Laura believes... (full context)
Scene 7
Memory Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
...Laura what she has done since high school, and she starts to explain that her glass collection takes up much of her time. Jim launches into a long speech about inferiority complexes.... (full context)
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
Escape Theme Icon
Laura tells Jim about her glass animals . She hands him the unicorn, her favorite, to hold. He says, lightly, that since... (full context)