The Glass Menagerie
by Tennessee Williams
The Glass Menagerie Theme of Weakness
In The Glass Menagerie, weakness is linked to fragility, which comes to mean both beauty and breakability. While Laura’s shyness and fragility keep her in her own little world of equally fragile glass animals, they also infuse her with a mysterious individuality, something Jim picks up on with the nickname "Blue Roses" and finds incredibly attractive. Fragility also means dependence, as Laura needs Tom precisely because of her shy and delicate demeanor. We also see the relationship between physical and mental fragility, as it seems that Laura’s shyness arises from a physical defect: her crippled leg.
Questions About Weakness
- How does Laura's fragility relate to her need to escape reality? Where did it come from? We get some hints of this when she talks about high school…
- Is Laura the only fragile character in the play? Granted, we pretty much only put quotes about her up there, but hey, what do we know?
- There's something going on with that unicorn business. Why would it be a blessing in disguise that its horn broke off? Does that mean that Laura secretly wants to be like everyone else?
Chew on This
Despite her attempts at helping, Amanda is the character primarily responsible for Laura's fragility and shyness.
The Glass Menagerie makes it clear that there is no hope for Laura; while Tom escapes, Laura is left stuck in an inescapable rut, a prisoner in her own glass house.