In Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie the title holds everything. In the novel glass menagerie does not only symbolize glass figurines loved by the main character, Laura, but it is also a window into her true character and personality. These glass figurines do not only give readers insight, but it also gives meaning to the novel as a whole.
Laura loves her glass collection of tiny glass animals. They are her life. But these glass figurines are not only objects but symbolize her. They represent her personality, her character, her dreams. They are small, transparent and boring figurines. No one sees their use or their worth; just like Laura. She is shy, crippled and alone. But once the right light is shown through them, a different world of colors appear, and it gains life. Once the right light, the right person and inspiration, shines through her she gains life. Jim is her light. Jim brings out colors, a personality, and a side of her that not even she has seen.
But these glass figurines also represent much more. They represent a different and fragile world. These menageries comfort Laura and provide her with a different reality. They represent an escape. But these glass figurines are also very fragile and can break at any time, just like the reality Laura lives in. These pieces of glass are so revered and never fully touched by Laura, mirroring her dreams.
One figurine in particular reveals much more about Laura, the unicorn. The unicorn is a mythological creature that belongs to a different world. It is also a unique horse that may not fit in with everyone else. This is exactly how Laura feels. She feels that she does not belong and so she escapes with her glass menageries. While Laura goes through a dramatic change with Jim in the living room, the unicorn's horn is broken off. This makes the unicorn just like every other horse. It's uniqueness is gone. Laura mirrors the unicorn, but in the end she decides to give it to Jim. She no longer feels attached to it because she has finally grown up and faced the true reality. And also because the unicorn no longer represents her and her individuality. The glass menageries symbolize Laura and the world she once relied on. These old, fragile, and unappreciated figurines give a deeper look into Laura more than any words Tennessee Williams could ever have written.
Symbolism is the most important device in literature, especially in Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie. Without this symbolism the play would simply be a story. It is only when one looks underneath and deeper into the meaning that he finds the true story. Symbolism is able to give readers a deeper look into the lives, personality, and dreams of characters like Laura. So much is explained in that small glass figurine, and without symbolism that would be lost to both the reader and the story.