“The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams is a memory play which is believed to be part of his real life. As the image of Williams’s sister Rose, who is interested in glass animals, Laura also has a glass collection. In the play, the glass menagerie itself is pregnant with significance and symbolism. The breaking of the glass unicorn’s horn, Laura’s favorite one, symbolizes the shattering of her illusions in life.
Laura’s personality is characterized by her own collection of glass animals, especially the unicorn. Glass animals are fragile and beautiful and so is she: innocent and vulnerable. Laura is remote from real life, she finds it hard to cope with the world outside the Wingfields’ tiny apartment. She is confined in the fantasy world of her glass ornaments: she spends time playing with them and taking care of them. In fact, it is the glass menagerie which she “takes more interest in than anything else”; and Laura’s favorite one – the unicorn, is the best reflection of her. The unicorn is different from other ones because it has a horn, it is beautiful and precious in its own unique way. Laura is also pretty “in a very different way… And all the nicer because of the difference”. This suggests that Laura has unearthly beauty which is hidden by her limp and shyness. However, as Jim points out, unicorns are “extinct in the modern world” and, therefore, “must feel sort of lonesome” just as Laura’s inferiority complex have kept her away from human contacts.
Executive Summary The Resourceful Earth is a response to Global 2000 Report to the President, which is dead wrong in its frightening environmental and social predictions. They summarize the findings of Global 2000 using two paragraphs from its own summary: If present trends continue, the world in 2000 will be more crowded, more polluted, less stable ecologically, and more vulnerable to disruption ...
Then a big change has happened to Laura and it can be seen through her reaction upon the loss of the unicorn’s horn. When Jim dances with Laura, he hits on the table, dropping the unicorn to the floor and its horn breaks off. Contrary to what might be expected, Laura does not yell or cry out “as if wounded” like she did when Tom unintentionally broke her glass animal before. She calmly picks it up and reassures Jim that it is alright and “maybe it’s a blessing in disguise”. She even makes a joke upon the hornless unicorn, “I’ll just imagine he had an operation. The horn was removed to make him feel less—freakish!”. Now the unicorn is just as normal as the other horses, which symbolizes that Laura becomes more realistic as she begins to accept the truth and learns to face the world. In the end, Laura gives Jim the hornless unicorn as a souvenir. Jim has encouraged Laura to step out of her defensive world and it is also Jim who throws her back. By giving Jim the broken glass animal, Laura may wants to give away with him her broken dreams of love. However, all those actions show that Laura now steps out of her illusory world to enter the real one.
In conclusion, the unicorn’s loss of its horn symbolizes Laura’s transformation from being innocent to experienced. She is not trapped in her “glass world” any more, but she does suffer a lot from this great change. Tennessee Williams is indeed an excellent playwright in using symbolism to describe illusions in his characters’ life.