The Symbol of Light in a Streetcar Named Desire
How it works
What is the significance of the symbol of light throughout A Streetcar Named Desire?
What objects are used to illustrate the significance of light? Why does Blanche want to avoid it?Where does desire lead to in the play?
The symbol of light in A Streetcar Named Desire is significant because it is used to highlight many different parts of the poem. One of the main objects used to illustrate the significance of light is the paper latern because the paper lantern covers the light and in turn covers her insecurities.
When Mitch says he’s never seen her in the light and Blanche says that thats a fact! She is showing that she’s proud of the fact that Mitch hasn’t seen her in the light because she doesn’t want him to see the parts of her that are getting older. When he rips the paper lantern off the bulb she is seriously offended because she “doesn’t want realism! [she] wants magic!” (1.9.126)
How do the lives of Stanley and Blanche demonstrate the way desire effects life?
The lives of Blanche and Stanley demonstrate the way desire affects life in different ways. Blanche desires the frivolousness and flattery of being with men but never being committed because it feeds her self esteem. And we see later in the play that Stanley truly desires power, through his rape of Blanche. For Blanche this affects her life horribly as she was eventually committed to an insane asylum because she trusted a man who hurt her. But for Stanley his desires don’t really affect him at all as after he assaults his wife and rapes her sister he is still seen as an okay family man.
When Blanche is around other people, she behaves differently than when she is alone. Around others, she expresses great femininity and hides her secret drinking habit. How does the play show Blanche’s tendency to perform for others? Do other characters in the play do a similar type of performance when they are alone versus in public?
The play shows Blanche’s tendency to perform for others through the way in which she acts with herself compared to when others are around. In the beginning of the play when she first gets to Stella and Stanley’s home she is uneasy when she is by herself. So uneasy. She even says, “I’ve got to keep a hold of myself!” (1.1.79) But when Stella comes in she is suddenly lively and okay. This happens many times throughout the play where we see Blanche be uneasy and unsure of herself in one moment but when she’s around people she is suddenly the most confident thing ever. I think other character’s, Stanley specifically, do put on a type of performance for others when they are in public. In Stanley’s case he pretends to be a good person when at home and in private he’s a violent predator.
“I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley,” Stella says at the end of the play. Examine this statement – is Stella showing a remarkable self-awareness? Or perhaps self-justification? Compare Stella’s behavior in the final scene to that of Stanley and Mitch.
I think Stella is showing self justification for what she knows is about to happen to her sister. She isn’t self aware enough nor is she the type of woman to take the word or story of another woman over her husband. She also is not saying that she kicked Stanley out, rather she’s saying “I couldn’t believe her story and have her here to seduce my husband again” because even if an inkling of her believes something did happen to Blanche it’s most likely that in her eyes Blanche would have been the seductress and not the victim. In this final scene she is extremely reserved compared to Stanley and Mitch, giving only short and straight answers. I think she does this to remove herself from the situation and not take any responsibility for what she’s done to her sister.
Much Postmodern literature involves unreliable narrators. Who do you think would be the most reliable narrator in A Streetcar Named Desire: Blanche, a pathological liar whose psyche is fragile at best; Stella, who does not believe her sister’s rape and chooses to deny that she has been physically abused; or Stanley, a hateful and violent drunk who abuses the women in his life?
I think the most reliable narrator would be Stella. Although she’s mysogynistic she has no real secrets to cover up for herself. Unlike Blanche and Stanley she isn’t out to cover up any shame or secret. She feels what she feels and thinks she is right in doing so. As a narrator this would make her the most reliable because even if she is unfavorable at times, she has no real reason to lie.