Character Development In The Glass Menagerie English Literature Essay

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The author of the play, The Glass Menagerie, is Tennessee Williams. The main characters of this play are Jim, Tom, Amanda, and Laura. Laura, who is the sister of Tom and daughter of Amanda, "has failed to establish contact with reality, and continues to live vitally in her illusion" (281). During the play, she has the tendency of being shy and composed, but she soon over comes these difficulties. Laura changes within the play from being a shy young lady, to feeling comfortable and having a noticeable amount of excitement. From the reader's perspective, Laura has no known friends; however, she talks with her mother about "a boy from high school" named Jim that she likes (289). Jim and Laura spend time together in the play catching up and learning about how both of their lives have changes since high school. This is the part of the play where Jim makes Laura feel comfortable enough to open up and change. How does Laura change throughout the play? Based on a close examination of the text, Laura changes because she is no longer shy. She feels beautiful and radiates happiness.

One way Laura's character changes during the play is that she is no longer paralyzed by her shyness. Laura changes her self-confidence and overcomes her nervousness in many ways. One example that Williams provides of her conquering this trait is, "Jim's warmth overcomes her paralyzing shyness" (316). This shows Laura regaining her composer and being relaxed when she is reintroduced to a past friend. Laura reflects on her glass menagerie and relates to the collection in many ways. She relates to the unicorn due to the fact that it expresses a feeling of lonesomeness. When Laura and Jim meet for dinner, Laura's amount of nervousness is reduced. She even becomes comfortable enough to give her most cherished item, the unicorn, to Jim. As Williams stated, "she bravely smiles . . . then she gently opens his hand and raises it level with her own . . . she carefully places the unicorn in his palm" (326). These lines from the text show that Laura is slowly letting herself go and is less devoted to her collection. The reader experiences Laura as a less shy person through Jim's point of view. Jim even comments on the changes that he notices in Laura saying, "Ha-Ha- that's funny I am glad to see you have a sense of humor" (324). Jim is a source of advice for her when he states, "Being shy is something you have to work on . . . gradually" (319). With the help of Jim, Laura shows that she is more confident and less reserved.

Laura changes the negative thoughts that she has about herself. She starts the play feeling that she is unattractive and eventually moves to feeling beautiful. Laura has a negative opinion on herself due to the fact that she is self-conscious. As Williams states, "[Laura] had a brace on her leg [that] clumped so [loud during high school]" (318). Her physical appearance keeps her from feeling confident. Williams shows how Laura soon changes this opinion of herself when he states, "Jim: Your pretty [and] his hand slip slowly up her arm and her shoulder while he kisses her" (325). As with any girl that has been kissed, Laura shows an almost immediate change; "she sinks on the sofa with a bright, dazed look" (325). After this moment, Laura views herself as a prettier, more acceptable woman.

Laura changes into a happier person in the play The Glass Menagerie. There is evidence of this in Williams' words when he states, "Laura's dark hair hides her face until the end of the speech she lifts it to smile at her mother" (329). During the course of the whole play there are very few times when Laura is described as a happy character. It is not until the very end that she is portrayed in this way. Laura changes from being both upset and attached to her glass menagerie to being happy and less dependent on the collection. This is a major aspect of the play, which that shows Laura has changed who she use to be and is now happy.

Laura has transformed throughout this play into a different person. Some people may think Laura is still shy because she still does not attend school. However, she has changed into a confident person and learned to be less cautious. One part in the play that symbolizes this is, "Laura blows out the candle" (329). This represents Laura being self-assured and less guarded. Other readers may say Laura still seems unattractive because she must continue to wear braces due to her disability. However, when she is presented with Jim leaving, she handles the situation with maturity and offers a piece of her glass menagerie to him (326). This shows the great beauty of the maturity that Laura has gained. There may be readers that think Laura is still not happy at the end of the play. When Laura is said to be glancing at the photo of her father, this symbolizes her letting go and being happy (329).

Based upon a close analysis of this play, Laura's changes can be seen in her lack of shyness, her feeling of acceptance, and the fact that she is finally happy. Laura's shyness dissolves because of the support Jim gives her. Jim contributes positive thoughts to Laura, which help her become confident. Jim helps her express her true feelings, which assists her in feeling self-assured. Jim also helps Laura change her opinion of herself by giving her compliments. Some people, such as Laura, need only a few positive words to change the opinions that they have of themselves. Laura uses Jim's compliments to do just that. She went from feeling ugly and noticeable because of her disability to feeling happy and appealing. A little help from a friend helped Laura's character to progress in many positive ways. Jim's thoughtful encouragement, compliments and simple friendliness has brought positive change to Laura. Laura changes and improves throughout the play, The Glass Menagerie, to being a confident, attractive, and blissful young lady.

Work Cited

Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. Exploring Literature: Writing and Arguing About Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and the Essay. Ed. Frank Madden. 4th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. 281-329. Print.

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