The Glass Menagerie A Study In Symbolism — страница 2

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Laura took another stab at education. She enrolled at Rubicam?s Business College. However, Laura only made it to the first test. As the test began, she vomited on the floor and had to be carried to the bathroom. Laura never returned to school, and once again her fragile emotions got the best of her. The transparency of the unicorn, its final facet, represents the fact that Laura?s problems are easily apparent to anyone who cares to notice them. This is best seen through Jim?s evaluation of her: Jim: You know what I judge to be the trouble with you? Inferiority complex!?Yep — that?s what I judge to be your principal trouble. A lack of confidence in yourself as a person. You don?t have the proper amount of faith in yourself. I?m basing that fact on a number of your remarks and

also on certain observations I?ve made (98-9). Jim, practically a stranger, was able to see right through Laura and recognize her glaring psychological problems. Although the unicorn is the most famous symbol of the play, the picture of Mr. Wingfield strikes the reader as thought-provoking, also. The picture of Mr. Wingfield is an emblem of his pervasive influence on Amanda, Laura, and Tom. First, the largeness of the portrait suggests Mr. Wingfield?s strong hold on Laura, even though he has been gone nearly sixteen years. The “larger-than-life size photograph” looms over the family as a haunting reminder of him (23). This especially torments Laura, who hopes someday he will return. This is evident in her playing of the Victrola. The Victrola brings back pleasant memories of

her father; she remembers when times were good and wishes things could be like that again. Second, the grin on Mr. Wingfield?s face reminds Amanda of the effect his personality has had on her life. Mr. Wingfield?s grin and good looks are what first attracted Amanda to him. He was full of charisma and won Amanda?s heart through physical attraction, as Amanda declares: “One thing your father had plenty of — was charm!” (36). Amanda remembers the pleasant times they shared and, as a romantic, still hopes that he will return. However, more realistic in her situation, Amanda looks at the grin as a painful reminder of his mischievous and devious manner that led to him leaving. The grin signifies Mr. Wingfield laughing at them by abandoning them. This is apparent when Tom states:

“The last we heard of him was a picture postcard from Mazatlan, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, containing a message of two words: ?Hello — Goodbye!? and no address” (23). Finally, Mr. Wingfield?s Doughboy uniform mirrors Tom?s adventurous aspirations to become a Merchant Marine. Tom longs to break free of his boring life and satisfy his craving for adventure. He rationalizes his plans to abandon his family through heredity: “I?m like my father. The bastard son of a bastard!” (80). Just as the picture of Mr. Wingfield, Malvolio?s coffin trick represents some more of the great symbolism used throughout the play. Malvolio?s coffin trick is a token of Tom?s suffocating lifestyle. The first aspect, Malvolio?s similarities with Tom, refers to each of their life-threatening

situations. Malvolio faces literal death by suffocation if he does not successfully escape the coffin. Conversely, Tom faces figurative death by emotional and spiritual suffocation if he does not find a way out of his present situation. The coffin, the second aspect, symbolizes the lifestyle from which Tom is striving to escape. Tom looks at his life as a “two-by-four situation” (45). He fears living the next fifty-five years of his life working in the basement of a warehouse, performing mundane tasks, and making a mere sixty-five dollars a month. Although he loves his family, he cannot tolerate the thought of spending the rest of his life in a cramped apartment, supporting his family, living with the constant worry of Laura?s well-being, and putting up with his mother?s

frequent nagging. The nails of the coffin, its final facet, represent Laura and Amanda. In his trick, Malvolio escapes from the coffin without disturbing any of the nails; however, Tom knows that that will be impossible for him: “You know it don?t take much intelligence to get yourself into a nailed up coffin, Laura. But who in hell ever got himself out of one without removing one nail?” (45). Tom is suffocating in his own figurative coffin, but for him to escape he must disturb Laura and Amanda. Clearly, Malvolio?s escape from the coffin was much easier than Tom?s flight from his lifestyle will be. In conclusion, Williams? play, through well-written symbolism, offers its readers many emblems to study, including the unicorn, the picture of Mr. Wingfield, and Malvolio?s coffin