The Glass Menagerie

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.

Glass Menagerie Quotes in The Glass Menagerie

The The Glass Menagerie quotes below all refer to the symbol of Glass Menagerie. 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:
Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the New Directions edition of The Glass Menagerie published in 1999.
Scene 2 Quotes

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
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Scene 3 Quotes

You’ll go up, up on a broomstick, over Blue Mountain with seventeen gentleman callers! You ugly—babbling old—witch...

Related Characters: Tom Wingfield (speaker), Amanda Wingfield
Related Symbols: Glass Menagerie, The Movies
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

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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
Related Symbols: Glass Menagerie
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 7 Quotes

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)
Related Symbols: Glass Menagerie, Glass Unicorn
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

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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)
Related Symbols: Glass Menagerie, Glass Unicorn
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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
Related Symbols: Glass Menagerie
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

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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)