3 Feb. 2011
An insight into Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tennessee Williams’ own family, while growing up in Missouri, would give the reader better insight to why he wrote such gloomy and depressing plays. Williams based the characters in his play The Glass Menagerie on his own family. The inspiration for his character Laura Wingfield was Williams’ own real life sister Rose Williams who suffered from Schizophrenia. (Bloom 11) Laura Wingfield, like Rose, isolated herself from the world with her glass animal figurines. Tennessee Williams uses the glass figurines to symbolize the fragility of Laura’s character: her illusions, ...view middle of the document...
Laura does this on a daily basis which gives the reader an insight into solitary world . (Presley, 40) Laura lives like a recluse just as Tennessee Williams’ sister Rose. Laura has made herself a prisoner of her own lonely world by withdrawing herself from the world around her. Laura’s only connections to the outside world are her mother Amanda, her brother Tom, and Laura’s gentleman caller Jim O’Conner, the only gentleman caller that made Larua feel good about herself, if only for a minute.
Laura makes herself ill worrying about what people might think of her “disability” so she rarely leaves the comfort of her safe home. Laura has manifested in her own mind that she is so different from everyone else around her that she has created her own little safe world, one in which she has complete control over. Amanda mother could not accept or understand Laura’s solitary lifestyle. Laura’s mother Amanda wants to control every part of her life just like Tennessee Williams mother did to his sister Rose. Both mothers feel the need to control the lives of their children, trying to force them into the outside world. Laura’s mother even tries to control Laura’s love life, a world that is foreign to them. Laura’s only sense of attachment is to her glass figurines. Her devotion to them is as if they are her family. She believes in her own mind that she can communicate with them. When speaking with Jim in Scene 7 about her unicorn figurines, Laura says, “Well, if he does, he doesn’t complain about it. He stays on a shelf with some horses that don’t have horns, and all of them seem to get along nicely together”(Williams, 1651). This scene in the play really shows how childlike and how far out of touch Laura is with reality because she has granted the unicorn certain feelings and has also given the figurine a gender.
Laura Wingfield has such a deep connection with her glass menagerie that others cannot understand. She lives in a made up mythical world, a world in which unicorns can live. This is why the unicorn is her favorite of all her figurines. Tennessee Williams uses the glass animal figurines to help the audience understand Laura’s fragile state of mind. She sees the unicorn’s horn as her slight limp which she identifies with.