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Analysis of A Streetcar Named Desire Essay


A Streetcar Named Desire: As the action of the play unfolds, dramatic tension is often produced by the contrast of concealment and revelation.

A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams, is a rather striking and intriguing play which presents the shift between the new order and the old order. The production takes place in a working class district of New Orleans, soon after World War II, where aristocracy and pretensions are fading, with reality and practicality taking its place. Through the use of concealment and revelation, Williams show how dramatic tension and suspense are intensified within characters and with the audience as the play progresses.

Blanche DuBois, the protagonist of the play, initially establishes a faade which creates an escalating tension as the truth is slowly revealed. Her appearance is described as being incongruous to [the] setting [15] where her white clothes create an outer shell of innocence, purity, and richness. The audience and other characters learn later that Blanche is very complicated and hard to get along with, due to her egotism and arrogance. She expects chivalry from all men and demands to be treated properly with respect [81]. The audience and other characters can see she has old-fashioned ideals [91], but has too much self esteem, making people [admire] her dress and telling her she [looks] wonderful [33]. Blanche is also shown to avoid bright because of her delicate beauty [15].

The audience has created an image of Blanche as a wealthy woman with high pretensions, but that image is doubted when Blanche reveals more about her life, thus creating more tension. After she describes how she stayed and struggled through all of [the] deaths of their relatives and how Belle Reve slipped through [her] fingers [27], the audience learns that Blanche had difficulties in her past, making her vulnerable when it comes to death. Blanche also reveals that [her husband] died [31] when they were both very young, creating even more sympathy in the audience. Tension starts to heighten within the audience, questioning why Blanche conceals the fact that she drinks a lot of alcohol and why she cant be seen under direct light.

Stanley Kowalski, Blanches brother in law, not being able to stand her existence and lies anymore, investigates about her past and uncovers her illusions, setting the climax of the tensions. He reveals to about how she was famous in Laurel, but not respected by any party [99] because she gets around with men a lot. He describes Blanche as if she has no control over her carnal desires and is not in the right senses. Stanley may reveal what Blanche has been concealing for such a long time, but her own account of her past to Mitch evokes an understanding of all the misdeeds. She shares how her husband committed suicide and the blinding light [95] that illuminated her world was turned off again with no light stronger than [a] kitchen candle [96]. Because of these two contrasting stories about Blanches life, the audience is confused whether to think of Blanche as a prostitute or merely as a person who after the death of Allan, intimacies with strangers was all [she] seemed able to fill [her] empty heart with.[118]

Near the ending of the play, which is the last stage of tension building, the audience finally realizes why Blanche puts on a faade and why she always [depends] on the kindness of strangers. [142]. After her life fell apart and was fired for getting intimate with a seventeen year old boy [101], Blanche became a desolated woman who sought after comfort in young men, in remembrance of her young husband. She is deeply scarred by her past, which she tries hard to forget by leading a life of an elegant Old Southern lady. Blanche reveals that shes fading and that is why she puts on soft colors and a paper lantern over the light [79]. She doesnt want other characters to see her fading youth and beauty. Light is also a symbol of Blanches past; bright light defines her love for Allen, but it no longer exists as her world stayed in the dark waters. The lack of light made Blanche live a lie and escape reality. She covers exposed lights as a symbol of not being able to face reality, Daylight never exposed so total a ruin [21]. Blanche also conceals that she drinks because drinking makes her forget about her past. The last revelation is the cause of Blanche breaking down, not because of Stanley, but simply because she could not face reality, preferring magic [117] instead.

Williams does a fantastic job of portraying Blanche as a troubled person, later turning into a mental illusionist by creating dramatic tension. His play demonstrates how a person with small conflicts can turn into a wreck if they dont accept reality, but escape from it.

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