The Glass Menagerie


Tennessee Williams

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Glass Unicorn Symbol Analysis

Glass Unicorn Symbol Icon
The glass unicorn, Laura’s favorite figurine, is particularly representative of how Tom envisions Laura: beautiful but magical and unique. When Jim breaks the glass unicorn, it becomes a normal horse, no longer a magical creature. The unicorn’s shattering occurs just before Jim kisses Laura, but it signals the impossibility for Jim and Laura to be together: she cannot exist in his world without breaking. Laura presents the broken unicorn to Jim as a souvenir. The figurine becomes a memory of Laura that Jim can bring with him when he leaves Laura and returns to his life, but it also signifies the normal woman that Laura will never become.

Glass Unicorn Quotes in The Glass Menagerie

The The Glass Menagerie quotes below all refer to the symbol of Glass Unicorn. 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
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:

Unicorns—aren’t they extinct in the modern world?

Related Characters: Jim O’Connor (speaker)
Related Symbols: Glass Unicorn
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

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:
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Glass Unicorn Symbol Timeline in The Glass Menagerie

The timeline below shows where the symbol Glass Unicorn appears in The Glass Menagerie. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 7
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 unicorns are extinct in the modern... (full context)
Abandonment Theme Icon
Illusions and Dreams Theme Icon
...disconsolate, but Jim does not notice the depths of her despair. She places the broken unicorn in his hand, telling him to keep it as a souvenir. (full context)