Laura Wingfield is, in many ways, the pivotal character of the play. She is the central figure upon which the thematic nuances of fragility and misconception play out. In fact, Laura is the character about which all the characters possess some misconception. On the whole, this misconception revolves around her perceived weakness, a notion everyone adopts and fails to question even in her moments of will. Hence, her reputation as weak becomes more a taxing factor than any actual weakness of her own.
Throughout the play, Laura comes from symbolize the fragility of the glass menagerie, and yet her character reveals itself to be less of the transparent and delicate (at least in terms of breaking), and more of the fibrous and compassionate. She cries over her brother’s unhappiness, holds fast to her love for Jim, and walked for hours in the cold to avoid typing class in her younger years.
Still, however, characters misjudge her. Amanda, her mother, thinks she can relive her youth vicariously through Laura. Tom and Jim maintain a notion of her as some exotic bird, or perhaps the glass unicorn she possesses.
Perhaps the most striking detail illustrating misconception of her is apparent in her moniker, “blue roses”. Infatuated with Jim in high school, she explains a prolonged absence from class as owing to pleurosis. He mistakes the name of the disease for “blue roses”, which becomes his nickname for her.
Laura has the least lines of the play, only furthering her image as a selfless and isolate character. She stands in dramatic contrast to the selfishness of the rest of her family, who seem to play out their psychological imperatives almost entirely unconscious of their effect on other people. The fact that Laura does not participate in the inequities of the other characters, sets her apart. She remains the play’s most enigmatical figure.
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