Glass Menagerie - Jim

Essay by 2hvy4grvty December 2007

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In the play, "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams, Laura Wingfield struggles with her everyday life. Laura and the rest of her family continue to suffer from the difficulties of the real world. Jim's purpose in this play is to serve as a symbol of confidence and reality, to give Laura a glimpse of hope and success, and to positively influence the Wingfields with his personality and character.

Jim's assertive attitude brings Laura out of her glass world and shows her the burdens of the real world. Amidst the conversation between Laura and Jim, Jim breaks Laura's most prized possession: the glass unicorn. Laura has lived most of her life inside a glass menagerie world, refusing to face reality, symbolizing the fragile nature of a dream world. When Jim shatters her unicorn, he releases Laura from the fragile dream world and conveys her to the hardships of reality. When Laura finally realizes the collapse of her glass world, she gives the last remnants of it to Jim as "a souvenir" (Williams 91).

This act of acceptance is Laura’s first step into the real world. Jim finally removes the influence the glass menagerie had on Laura, freeing her from the imprisonment and exposing her into reality. It is because of Jim that Laura is becoming consciously aware of her position in the real world.

Jim's continual display of understanding guides Laura into feeling important. He tells her to "loosen th' backbone!" (85). Jim helps make Laura a better individual, one that is more self-righteous in the acts she commits. He wants Laura to have a strong sense of pride and honor and that she should never be ashamed of whom she is. Jim also appraises Laura's beauty and her uniqueness. Jim knows Laura has very little self-confidence and compliments her to help motivate and ensure her that there is someone special waiting for her. Jim reminds Laura that even in a world full of torment and suffering, hints of success can always be found. His insights allow him to positively affect Laura and to boost her aspirations.

In the presence of Jim's unique personality, Amanda is reminded of her childhood. Laura is influenced to have a sense of self-respect. Amanda is obsessed with her past experiences of gentleman callers. Jim's arrival allows her to once again relive that experience. Jim's influence revives a forgotten quality of Amanda, which brings about a reawakening of Amanda's self-esteem. It is not surprising that Amanda, in spite of her determination to find a suitor for Laura, acts flirtatiously towards Jim. Jim also talks about his future plans for life and how he is not "discouraged" by his previous defeats but is merely "disappointed" by them (78). Jim’s optimistic attitude towards life encourages Laura to be less cognizant of what others think about her because the only thing that should matter is what she thinks of herself. It also proves to Laura that a single failure means nothing because failure is only the first step to success. Jim's influences the Wingfields to be proud of themselves and to make each and every one of them into an even better person.

Jim's purpose is to bring Laura into the real world and give her a desire and ambition to live by, as well as to help the Wingfields become better individuals of society. Through his acts, Jim's objective becomes clear: to help Laura and her family move on.