I first discovered The Glass Menagerie, a play by Tennesee Williams, when I was a junior in high school. I was immediately fascinated with all of the characters and their complexities.
The symbolism used in this play is so intricately imbedded into each character and prop, the viewer - or reader - can relate on a very deep, personal level.
I found the character of Laura the most intriguing of all, symbolizing an entire sect of population during the 1930s. That being the section of the population that could not, or perhaps did not want to, relate to the reality of the outside world as it was - cruel, judgemental, and painful. Or, perhaps even a sub-section of the population of the time - those who were imperfect.
I found it fascinating how Laura identifies herself with the glass unicorn in her menagerie of animals. It is unique; somehow different than the rest, and yet still part of the menagerie. Laura views herself as unique - due to her imperfection - and yet a part of the population; albeit she was an introverted recluse. She is terrified of the world in which she finds herself; learning early on the cruelties of the world towards those who are, in one way or another, different - imperfect.
A profound statement in the play, made by Laura, comes when Jim, the long awaited suitor, bumps the table of glass animals, the unicorn falling on the floor, its horn breaking off. "Now it is just like the rest of the horses. " It is no longer unique, or different, just one of the many. If Laura were to be suddenly changed, both legs of the same length, no longer terrified of the world, she too would be just like the rest; no longer unique. Ironically, it is her physical imperfection which causes the introverted recluse to become the reality.
Many viewers, and readers, of Williams' play identify with Laura's plight; regardless of whether the imperfections are visible, or intangible. None in this world are perfect. Each person being unique in their own ways. Each having their own histories, stories, tragedies, and triumphs culminating into their reality and perception of the world.
The Glass Menagerie, well written as a timeless classic that will never cease to define the human psyche, human nature, and the humanities.