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Streetcar Named Desire Essay

736 words - 3 pages

A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams, is a social realism play that takes place during the 1940’s in New Orleans. Williams uses this play to directly question inherent ideologies of human nature. He uses plot, narrative techniques, motifs, and contrasting values to directly challenge the reader’s perspective.

Illusion’s purpose is questioned in this fact-based world we call reality. Blanche, Stella’s sister, is used to represent illusion. Her whole life, from her diamond tiara made of rhinestones, to her spurious façade, is literally and metaphorically an illusion. The concept of illusions is further developed through the light motif in the play, with Blanche displaying “moth” like characteristics, avoiding “strong light”(pg.3) and “naked light bulb[s]”(pg.54). The light motif also represents a time of innocence, before Blanche’s husband’s death, when there was “blinding light” in her life, but after her husbands suicide, there hasn’t been“ any light that's stronger than this--kitchen—candle” (pg.103). Stanley is an advocate for reality, as shown by his constant struggle to uncover Blanches illusions about her past. Williams suggests that illusion’s serve as an essential part of society. Whether it was Blanches husband’s suicide or Stella’s husband’s participation in rape, illusions are shown throughout the play to help people deal with harsh realities. They help ‘victims’ of reality see “what ought to be truth”(pg.127) through illusions, alleviating unwanted pain.

Williams questions whether desire is advantageous for humanity. Desire for Blanche was inexplicitly linked to a metaphorical death in the beginning of the play. Her sexual desire led to her banishment from Laurel, embodied by the streetcar named desire. This streetcar takes her to another streetcar named cemeteries-an recognizable association with death, which then drove her to Elysian Fields, the afterlife in Greek mythology. Moreover, Blanches sexual desires directly leads to her social ‘death’, resulting in her becoming “a town character. Regarded as not just different but downright loco--nuts.”(pg.108). This led to Mitch rejecting her as a suitable wife, telling her that she’s “not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother”(pg.131). Literal...

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