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Character Analysis Essay: Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie

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In the Glass Menagerie, Laura Wingfield is one of the main characters. She is Amanda’s daughter and Tom’s older sister. Laura is twenty-three years old and incredibly shy. She is somewhat of an introvert. She is very withdrawn from the outside world and devotes herself to old records and her collection of glass figurines. Laura also has a bad leg, which causes her to walk with a limp. She keeps a brace on her bad leg to help stabilize it and the pain. Throughout the entire story, Laura is the only one who never does anything to hurt anyone else. Her being so compassionate helps the audience understand her even more. Laura is depicted as a rare and odd woman who is as sensitive as a glass figurine. During the play, Williams shows the compassion greatly that Laura holds in her heart.

For example, during the scene of Tom being unhappy, Laura sheds genuine tears for him. Her seeing other people unhappy, made her sad. She kind of knows how it feels also. Not only do we see her compassion, we can very clearly see her selfishness trait come into play. She is selfish to herself because Laura already has her own problems to stress over yet she is completely in shambles over Tom’s unhappiness. Most people would not have cared as much as Laura, especially when they have their own problems. Laura is one main character; she is not the protagonist like many believe.

The protagonist is the leading character or one of the major characters in a drama, movie, novel, or other fictional text. Tom Wingfield is the protagonist in my opinion. Although he is far from courageous, he does finally take some type of action at the very end of the play. During the play, we see how he reacts to his life and he tells what he wants to get out of it. This is where we can see things get very intense while he is trapped in the apartment. We can see his constant emotional conflict when he is torn between his dreams and his sense of responsibility for his family. In almost every scene in the play, Tom is bitter and has no ability to rest. Tom also plays a double role in the play. Unlike the other characters, Tom would sometimes address the audience directly. He would try to give a more unbiased explanation and evaluation of what has been happening onstage during the play.

The understanding of Tom also becomes strange and we become unable to decide whether his judgment should be trusted. This shows how memory could involve confronting the past. Tom is constantly demanding that Laura is desperately weird, and has no chance of surviving in the outside world. Although Laura is rather quiet and bland around strangers, she is a beautiful multi-colored rainbow to those who choose to look at her in the right light. Even though her brother doubted her; that did not dim her colorful light. We can also compare this note to Laura’s personality. Glass is transparent. But when the light is shined upon it correctly, it refracts an entire rainbow of colors. The glass menagerie symbolizes the colorful, imaginative world to which Laura devotes herself — a world that is colorful and enticing, but based on fragile illusions.

One of the most well-known themes we can determine is by looking at all the members of the family is difficulty the characters have in accepting and relating to reality. They all have trouble understanding their current environment. Out of the three Wingfields, reality has by far the weakest grasp on Laura. Laura had the weakest grasp of the reality because of the life she lived. Laura used her imagination to help build a version of the world that she wants to live in, but knows she cannot. The imaginative world she “lived” in was incredibly colorful and extremely delicate. Laura’s favorite figurine was the strange, delicate glass unicorn. Her figurines were very important to her; they were the very basis of her imaginative world. The glass unicorn represents Laura. They are both unusual and incompetent to the world they live in.

The glass unicorn is strange and rather different from your average horse. When Jim dances with Laura and kisses her, the unicorn’s horn breaks off. When the horn breaks off, the unicorn becomes a horse, making it seem more normal. The breaking of the horns is also a show of symbolism. The fate of the unicorn is also a smaller-scale version of Laura’s fate in Scene Seven. During this dance, Jim advanced to give Laura a new sense of normalcy. He basically made her seem more like just another girl, and not a weirdo. Laura was not alienated at this point. She was actually more normal than ever actually. But symbolizing the breaking of the horn, the audience can see that Laura cannot become normal without somehow shattering. So later in the play, Laura gives Jim the unicorn as a gift of their time together. She wanted him to always remember the wonderful short lived time they shared. Without its horn, the unicorn is more appropriate for him than for her. It is now too average and less peculiar for Laura to keep. The broken figurine represents all that he has taken from her and destroyed in her.

Learning Laura’s character as we read The Glass Menagerie, we learn that there is a deeper symbolic meaning. Based on the title, the glass menagerie, we can see that this is the play’s main and most obvious symbol. Laura has created her own version of the world through her collection of glass animals. The figurines as a whole seem to depict certain aspects of her personality. The figurines are delicate, imaginative, and somehow they are also old-fashioned. In this perspective, we can see that the figurines represent Laura and different facets of her personality. Laura was a compassionate woman and a beautiful soul. As we learn the depths of her personality and mind, we learn the true personality of Laura. Laura Wingfield was a unicorn in a field of horses. Although Laura had her own issues and problems, she was unique and true to herself.

Works Cited

  1. “Glass Menagerie-Character Analysis (Laura Wingfield).” Google, Google,
  2. Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. W. Ross MacDonald School Resource Services Library, 2017.

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Character Analysis Essay: Laura Wingfield in the Glass Menagerie. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from
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