Symbolism and Deception in “A Streetcar Named Desire”
This essay will explore the use of symbolism and themes of deception in Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and how they contribute to the play’s exploration of reality vs. illusion. More free essay examples are accessible at PapersOwl about A Streetcar Named Desire.
How it works
“A Streetcar Named Desire,” is a play written by Tennessee Williams. It is about a teacher, Blanche Dubois arriving to New Orlean’s, Louisiana to live with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley after living in laurel her whole life. Blanche has lost their family inheritance a mansion “Belle Reve ” it was repossessed by the bank when blanche could not keep up with the payments.
Throughout the play, we see how Blanche lies about who she is to hide from her harsh reality.
In addition, we see Stella and Stanly’s destructive relationship unravel which creates a lot of tension in the apartment between Stella and Blanche. Stanley is on a mission to reveal what blanche is hiding from Stella. Ultimately, he does discover her truths and convinces Stella to send her to a mental ward. Williams used symbolism to emphasis to the audience how small details can help us understand the characters in the play better. Blanche Dubois is one of the main characters in the play.
Throughout the play, she avoids light. Light represents truth and reality. Blanche is hiding the real reason she is in New Orleans. She told her sister she was on leave from work, but she got fired for having an inappropriate relationship with a student. She lost her husband when she was young after she found him with another man, she confronted him, and he committed suicide. “He’d stuck the revolver into his mouth and fired.” (1859; sc 6). She now carries this guilt and fills it by having sex with different men. Another example from the text is when Blanche arrives at the apartment, she tells her sister Stella to turn off the overbearing light, she even says “I won’t be looked at in this merciless glare.” (1825; sc1). She does this to try to hide her true nature from her sister. Additionally, she asks Mitch to place a paper lantern over a bulb to dim the light. She does this to hide her age from him. “Let’s leave the lights off, shall we?” (1855; sc6) Blanche does this to continue to live in her fantasy world.
Flowers are mentioned in the play they symbolize romance, desire, and loss. We learn at the beginning of the play that Blanche lost Belle Reve after getting behind in payments. She also explained the reason she got behind in payments was because of the funeral cost for her father, mother, and Margret. “Yes, accuse me! Sit there and stare at me thinking I let the place go! I let the place go where were you! In bed with your polack.” (1825, sc1) We see that she resents Stella for leaving for Louisiana to make her life while she stayed in Laurel until the end. She says in scene 1 “but funerals are quiet with pretty flowers.” The flowers represent loss, the loss of her family and ultimately the loss of Belle Reve. In scene three, Stella tells Blanche she is “as fresh as a daisy” (1835; sc3) she compliments her sister to make her feel desired. In scene five Mitch brings Blanche roses to court her this shows how he desired her as a woman.
Blanche’s name is significant in the play her name means white. The color white is purity and innocence. In scene one when she arrives to New Orleans, Williams described her appearance as “daintily dressed in a white suit with fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and a hat.” (1819; sc1) she liked to appear perfect and innocent. In reality Blanche was the opposite she was flirtatious and a liar. Varsouviana polka played throughout the play in the text Williams explains this music was playing the night Blanche and her husband Allen went out dancing. Allen committed suicide that night after Blanche told him she was disgusted by him since she had walked in on him with another man earlier. This music plays and Blanche remembers him this demonstrates her loss of innocence the cause of her mental illness.
In Saleem literature, masterplots analysis Susan Henthorne interpreted the last scene in A streetcar named Desire very well. She writes “To persuade Blanche to leave quietly, Stella tells her that Huntleigh came for her. When Blanche sees the attendants, she is frightened at first, but then quickly responds to their kindness.”’(Henthrone). This last scene showed us how stella turned on her sister blanche using her illness to get her out of the apartment to save her marriage with Stanley. Tennesse Williams use of symbolism in the drama A Streetcar named Desire shows how significant an object is all these examples helped explain the characters in the play. His unique way to use symbols helped us understand them better