The use of symbolism in the gl

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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Symbolism is an aspect used in several novels of today's and yesterday's world. In the book, The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Willams, symbols are a major part of this play. As Tom, the narrator, is a poet, and admits he has a weakness for symbols. There are three prominent symbols in this play that stick out more than anything.

One major symbol presented in the story is the fire escape, a symbol that has a different meaning and function for each character. For Tom, it is a way of escape from fire, not the normal type of fire that would need a fire truck, but "the slow and implacable fires of human desperation." This is especially true of Tom's apartment. His mother, devastated after her daughter Laura's failure to cope in business college, becomes obsessed with finding her a gentleman caller so that she can marry and be well supported.

When this caller finally comes, and it seems like it was meant to be, as they dance and kiss, he announces he is engaged, and destroys their hopes. The ever-fragile Laura, temporarily drawn out of her dream-world shell of her glass collection and the victrola, draws further back into herself. Now a terrible desperation fills the apartment, and Tom decides he must escape the suffocating environment to follow his own calling. The fire escape to him represents a path to the outside world. For Laura, the fire escape is exactly the opposite--a path to the safe world inside, a world in which she can hide. Especially symbolic is Laura's fall when descending the steps to do a chore for her mother, after leaving the security of the apartment. This fall symbolizes Laura's inability to function in society and the outside world. For Amanda, the fire escape is symbolic of...