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The Glass Menagerie A Study in Symbolism In the drama The Glass Menagerie 1945 Tennessee Williams reflects upon personal experiences he and his family encountered during the Depression of the 1930s As a lower class family the characters are placed in the slums of St Louis in 1935 The protagonist Tom Wingfield is the narrator and Williams surrogate Living with his mother and sister Tom supports them by working in a shoe manufacturing warehouse He should feel lucky to have this job however he despises his work and dreams of leaving to become a Merchant Marine Unhappy with what life has dealt him Tom strives for adventure and longs to turn his back on his responsibilities His mother Amanda Wingfield abandoned by her husband almost sixteen years ago tries to keep her family together through tough times Although her love and hopes for her children are sincere her overbearing and outspoken nature often hurts them Laura Toms sister suffers from neuroses She has trouble separating fantasy from reality Without the ability to function in the outside world Laura becomes a liability to both Tom and Amanda The gentleman caller Jim OConnor is a friend of Toms from the warehouse He is an ambitious young man who strives for the American Dream through hard work and optimism Jim offers the Wingfields hope for the future Tom He is the most realistic character in the play being an emissary from a world of reality that we were somehow set apart from But since I have a poets weakness for symbols I am using this character also as a symbol he is the long- delayed but always expected something that we live for 23 Williams gives the reader many emblems throughout the play there are three of them are especially interesting The unicorn symbolizes Lauras uniqueness the picture of Mr Wingfield represents his strong influence on his deserted family and Malvolios coffin trick signifies Toms suffocating lifestyle The
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