To create a better understanding of a character’s personality, we must delve deep into a character’s thoughts, his traits, and his many other distinguishing characteristics. Our character, Laura Wingfield, from Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menagerie, suffers from a crippled leg that causes her to limp whenever she walks. Over time, her crippleness has caused her to become incredibly shy to strangers and almost everyone around her. Her shyness ricochets back at her by making her lose all self confidence in herself and thus makes her afraid to face or even talk to people. It causes her to turn into an outcast among regular people and even causes her to drop out of social institutions like high school and business college.
Her crippled leg over time has become a looming invisible adversary. She has been living in a dream world created by her mother whereas her leg is not crippled, but only a minor defect. Over time, she has lost all self confidence in herself and resorts to the confines of her glass menagerie and old phono records. She uses it as an escape, not from her confined home life, but rather as an escape from the life outside. She prefers not to have interaction with people and would rather spend all day caring for her glass animals. There, she can get away from the pressures her mother constantly places on her and be in perfect nirvana. Her shyness and tendency to keep to herself even made her drop out of high school. Even in business college, she threw up on the first day of class and never returned. Her shyness has alienated her to a point where even the most slightest conversation can frighten her.
Laura is also afraid of confrontations. When she dropped out of business college, she walked around town or through the parks for months in cold and freezing weather just to avoid having to confront her mother with the news. When her mother finally found out about it, she tried to avoid having to talk back or answer her by trying to escape to her glass menagerie or playing the phonograph. When she discovered that Jim O’Connor was the one coming to dinner, she froze up and could not even force herself to go answer the door. After they constrained her to come to the dinner table, she passed out just as she got close to Jim. She is even afraid of others having confrontations. After Tom and Amanda’s fight, she pleaded with Tom to make up with her mother and say he was sorry. Only when Jim and her start actually talking does Laura finally loosen up and feel at ease. She then gains some confidence back again after Jim’s prep talks, but still a bit on the defensive. But it is when Jim tells her that he is already engaged to be married, that she reverts back to herself again, and can no longer face him anymore.
Williams showers his play with intense symbolism. As symbolism within the play, Williams describes Laura’s frailty as fragile as the glass animals she cares so much about, both being like the other. In another display of symbolism, Laura describes the unicorn to Jim as being different from all the other horses, but they don’t quite seem to mind. In a way, she is describing how she herself should be; although she’s crippled, she shouldn’t think of herself as different from other people just because of a defect. She should know that other people probably wouldn’t care that she is crippled. After the two accidentally break the unicorn’s horn off, Laura says now it can be just like the other horses. Again, she might be symbolically describing herself. After getting aquatinted with Jim, and taking his advice, she might be able to build up her self esteem and be like other people again.
In a way, I can see a bit of Laura in myself. I too am shy like her. In a room full of strangers, I can barely hold a simple conversation with even just one person. I am only confident when I have at least someone I know to hang around and support me. In some manner, there is probably a bit