A Streetcar Named Desire

Chris H.

Fantasy, Reality, Desire

Fantasy. Reality. Desire. These are three of the themes that are focused on in "A Streetcar Named Desire". They are presented in a more subtle manner, hiding behind the lines of the play. Looking more closely, deeper meanings are found within certain scenes in the play.

This scene revolves around Stanley and Blanche. Stanley is challenging Blanche, trying to find reality while Blanche is resisting, defending her own fantasy and desire, seeing what she sees as "the truth".

A few things to notice: Analysis in depth

The facial expressions represent the theme of reality vs. fantasy. Stanley has a very stern expression while Blanche's expression has more of an "innocent" look.

The Characters in Depth

The first image at the beginning shows a very general idea of the theme. However, the theme of Fantasy vs. Reality is strongly portrayed through the characters, primarily Stanley and Blanche. In order to fully see the large differences between these characters, we need to see how close each individual is to reality and fantasy.

Blanche

This image is how Blanche is shown initially. At this point, we already established that Stanley is associated with reality while Blanche is associated with fantasy.

In this picture, Blanche is with Mitch. She appears to be completely normal, happy, and having a good time. There is one thing that is implied in the play and can be assumed. Blanche is constantly living in her own fantasy. She is so far from reality to the point where she is able to completely block it out from her mind.

Points in this picture:

First thing to notice is the environment is always in. It is stated by Mitch that Blanche never wants to go out unless it's gotten to a point where it's dark outside. So when Mitch decides to turn on the light, Blanche becomes worried. Again, this shows how strong Blanche's ties to her fantasy are.

Stanley

Stanley is a more easier character to explain. Most of the time, he is always straightforward. He is pretty much going to find out what the truth is behind Blanche and her background no matter what it takes. Through his very stern, straightforward attitude, it's safe to say that he can be more associated with reality.

Comparison: Fantasy and Reality

And we're back to this picture again. This image is probably the best representation of Fantasy vs. Reality. It shows Stanley challenging BlancheAt this point, now that the two primary characters have been explored a bit more, we can focus on the other details that strengthen the theme.

  • Blanche and her dark environment. This is more of stated rather than something that is hidden behind the lines. At the same time, there is more to it. She is living in her own world, where nothing is really true and clear, just like how living in the dark is not clear. Something that IS hidden behind the lines is her indirect manner when she speaks with someone. Her actions are also slightly indirect with people.
  • Stanley is just a very stern character overall. For most of the story, his attitude never seems to have any drastic change that is permanent.
  • The difference between Stanley and Blanche is the fact that Stanley, whether it is dark or light, is always around. This can be compared to reality, which is present regardless. Blanche is only in the dark. This can be compared to fantasy and deception, which can be molded in any way.

Usually, more deeper are found within stories and several pieces of literature. There are times when they are openly stated, while others are not. In “A Streetcar Named Desire”, Tennessee Williams uses multiple rhetorical devices and strategies to express the theme of fantasy and reality.


One way that Tennessee Williams expresses the theme of fantasy and reality is through the character’s perspectives indirectly. In the few beginning scenes, the reader can see where each character is coming from and they do the things they do. However, the actions and words of Blanche are not as clear as Stella or Stanley. By showing the perspective of the Stella and Stanley, Blanche’s behavior is slightly different and more noticeable than other people. This is shown in the beginning when Blanche is lying about her drinking to Stella. Also, her actions and words are more indirect, such as when she is talking to Stanley and isn’t really straightforward whenever she talks to him.  This behavior helps outline Stanley’s behavior and perspective. Stanley is very direct and very straightforward with actions. Unlike Blanche, Stanley will do whatever he feels is necessary to get his point across. Through showing these two different perspectives, the theme of fantasy and reality are introduced and slightly implied.

Tennessee Williams also uses not only the characters to define the theme of fantasy and reality, but he incorporates the surroundings as imagery to enhance the characters that define the theme. It is stated by Mitch in the book that whenever he asks Blanche to go somewhere with him, she always chooses to go when it’s dark outside. Through this statement, it shows that Blanche refuses to come to the truth, and prefers to stay in the dark. This draws a closer correlation between fantasy and Blanche. Stanley is still different since whether it is dark or light, he acts entirely the same. Blanche, however, reacts more severely when she is exposed to “light”. Through the use of imagery, Tennessee Williams manages to draw a closer relationship between fantasy and reality by adding details that support the characters personality.

What have you heard about me?

The fact that I don’t want realism, but want magic?

The opposite of desire is truth, the opposite of dark is light,

Yet I refuse to see it.


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