Characters Made Of Glass

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade July 2001

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In Tennesse Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie" it is the characters that are really a glass collection. Like any group of people they are each different, but they each possess a quality like glass.

Glass can be many things. It can be a window you look out of or a mirror that reflects an image. It is fragile. You must be so careful with it so it does not shatter. It must be polished and cleaned to reveal its beauty. The lives and traits of Laura, Tom, Jim, and Amanda are all like glass.

Laura is the most delicate of the group. Ever since she was a little girl she has had insecurity about her leg. This has prevented her from living her life. When she looks into the mirror she doesn't see her true self. She sees what she wants to see; she sees a crippled girl who could never be like everyone else.

Laura is treated like a piece of glass throughout the play. Amanda and Tom are so careful with her, so they do not hurt her in any way. Laura knows however that, "Glass breaks so easily. No matter how careful you are." They don't help her to see the light. They keep her in the dark, never helping her see her true beauty.

Jim shows Laura her true reflection. When the unicorn drops and the horn falls off, Laura realizes that she is just like everyone else, just like the unicorn is like all of the other horses. The quality that sets her apart from the world doesn't have to. Laura makes a comment about the unicorn, but is referring to herself, "Now he will feel more at home with the other horses, the ones that don't have horns"¦" Jim gives her hope and polishes her ego. Like glass, Laura just needed love, care, and light to find her true magnificence.

Tom always seems to be looking out the window. He is always dreaming of leaving the apartment and having adventure in his life. He wants to join The Union of Merchant Seamen. His situation is delicate however. He does not want to abandon his mother and sister like his father did. Tom would feel too guilty if he left them to fend for themselves. He doesn't want to destroy the dreams his mother has for the family. He knows they would not make it without him. So he stays for a long time, just longing to be on the other side of the window.

When Tom finally leaves to pursue his dreams he realizes that he is always looking back inside of that window. He constantly worries about Laura. He talks to Laura, "Oh, Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be!" Tom's dreams will forever be shattered because of his guilt; he never wanted to ruin his family for selfish reasons. Toms says to Jim, "I'm like my father. The bastard son of a bastard!" Jim also possesses glass characteristics. In Laura's eyes he is perfect. No flaws, no defects. He shines wherever he goes. She holds him up on a pedestal and admires his beauty. But what she sees in him is only what he was in school. She does not realize that he is not as wonderful as she remembers him. His life did not go the way everyone in high school thought it would. He is always looking at himself, wishing he could see another person. He has to keep dreaming of how his future will be so he can be happy. He tells Laura after signing her yearbook, "My signature isn't worth very much right now. But someday"”maybe"”it will increase in value!" He wishes his life had turned out differently. He wishes he wasn't working at the warehouse going nowhere with his life.

In the play Jim is always polishing his own ego. He is trying to build himself up; the more he does this, however, the more he will be shattered if he doesn't achieve his goals. He needs to see himself as he really is and be happy.

Amanda is in her own world. Her husband leaving her and her children triggered her insecurities and fears. She is insecure about Tom having his own life and she fears that Laura will not find a husband to take care of her. Amanda wishes her husband had never left because everyone's lives would be a lot easier, especially Tom's. Her husband leaving them ruined all of Amanda's dreams.

She is constantly looking back in life, wanting everything to be like it was when she was young. She remembers when, "One afternoon in Blue Mountain-your mother received- seventeen! -gentlemen callers!" Then later she wants at least one for Laura so desperately she asks Tom to find one, "Find one that's clean-living"”doesn't drink and ask him out for sister!" She so much wanted security for Laura; she did not want Laura to end up like her.

She never finds the true picture of reality throughout the play; she just constantly looks out the window. All f her dreams are shattered when Jim confesses that he has a girlfriend. This breaks Amanda's heart. All of the work and time she put into this one meeting was for nothing in Amanda's eyes.

Each character dealt with their fragility in their own way. They also took notice to each other's delicate states and acted with care. Like glass they are all hard to care for sometimes. Patience and love was shown in different ways. In this play the figured out who they really are instead of what they think they are.