Character Sketch of Laura Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie

Laura is the elder of the two Wingfield siblings. She walks with a limp and wears a leg brace after being crippled by pleurosis, as a child, which earns her the nickname ‘Blue Roses’ from Jim. In the play, her character is shy and sensitive. She seems to be fragile, both mentally and emotionally, as well as physically.

Although she may look weak and delicate on the surface, she is probably the strongest character in the play. Laura’s character teaches us the importance of self-acceptance, to be at peace with oneself. She embraces both her limp and shyness; qualities that make her odd, with natural self-acceptance. She accepts who she is and the way she is, without feeling the need to be someone else; unlike her mother, who pretends to be different from what she really is. She is compassionate and empathetic; having the ability to understand and accept others without judgment. She understands Tom’s frustrations and the need to leave. Even though her mother gets her enrolled in a business course against her wishes and pushes her to appear and behave differently to fetch good marriage proposals, Laura exudes only compassion and tolerance for her mother. She acts as a peacemaker between her mother and brother in moments of conflict. Even though she seems passive and socially anxious, she proves that she has a will of her own through little acts of rebellion, like dropping out of typing classes and walking around the city. The ways of society overwhelm her, so she takes refuge in her collection of glass animals.

The only time we see her behave differently is when she is talking to Jim. She appears to be bolder after Jim validates her for being unique and pretty, and encourages her to believe more in herself. Laura’s transformation in Jim’s presence makes an important point, that sometimes we need other people to believe in us so that we can begin to believe in ourselves. However, her experience with Jim changes her in other ways. When she comes to know about Jim’s engagement, she realizes that a person’s behaviour is not always a clear indicator of their intentions. She moves from being naïve and innocent about the ways of the world to being more pragmatic. That shift from innocence is symbolized by the breaking of the unicorn’s horn.

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