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"A Streetcar Named Desire" By Tenessee Williams.

1834 words - 7 pages

Tennessee Williams was once quoted as saying "Symbols arenothing but the natural speech of drama...the purestlanguage of plays" (Adler 30). This is clearly evident in "A Streetcar Named Desire", one of Williams's many plays. In analyzing the main character of the story, BlancheDuBois, it is crucial to use both the literal text as wellas the symbols of the story to get a complete and thoroughunderstanding of her.Before one can understand Blanche's character, one mustunderstand the reason why she moves to New Orleans andjoins her sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley. Byanalyzing the symbolism in the first scene, one canunderstand what prompted Blanche to move. Her appearance inthe first scene "suggests a moth" (Williams 96). Inliterature a moth represents the soul, so it is possible tosee her entire voyage as the journey of her soul (Quirino63). Later in the same scene she describes her voyage:"They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and thentransfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks andget off at Elysian Fields" (Quirino 63). Taken literallythis does not seam to add much to the story; however, ifone investigate Blanche's past one, can truly understandwhat this quotation symbolizes. Blanche left her home tojoin her sister, because her life was a miserable wreck inher former place of residence. She admits, at one point inthe story, that "after the death of Allan (her husband)intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill myempty heart with" (Williams, 178). She had sexual relationswith anyone who would agree to it. This is the first stepin her voyage-"Desire". She said that she was forced intothis situation because death was immanent and "The opposite(of death) is desire" (Williams, 179). She escaped death inher use of desire. However, she could not escape "death"for long. She was a teacher at a high school, and at onepoint she had intimacies with a seventeen year old student.The superintendent, "Mr. Graves", found out about this andshe was fired from her job. Her image was totally destroyedand she could no longer stay there. "Mr. Graves" sent heron her next stop of the symbolic journey-"Cemeteries". Herfinal destination was "Elysian Fields". The inhabitants ofthis place are described in Book six of the Aenied:"They are the souls," answered his [Aeneas'] fatherAnchises,"Whose destiny it is a second timeTo live in the flesh and there by the waters of LetheThey drink the draught that sets them free from careAnd blots out their memory."(Quirino 61)This is the place of the living dead. Blanche came toElysian Fields to forget her horrible past, and to have afresh start in life (Quirino, 63). In fact Blanche admitsin the fourth scene that she wants to "make myself a newlife" (Williams 135).By understanding the circumstances that brought Blanche toElysian fields, it is easy to understand the motives behindmany of Blanche's actions. One such action is that duringthe play Blanche is constantly bathing. This represents...

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