Streetcar Named Desire

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Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire contains more within it's characters, situations, and story than appears on its surface. Joseph Krutch, author of Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Streetcar Named Desire wrote, “The authors perceptions remain subtle and delicate… The final impression left is, surprisingly enough not of sensationalism but of subtlety” (38.) As in many of Williams's plays deeper meanings are understood only through close examination of each scene. The reader must ask him or herself as they go whether or not something might lend more than what lies on the surface.

The tone is set immediately in scene one when Blanche begins by telling Eunice, “They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields!” (15) Here you can clearly see that Tennessee is not meaning these places literally, rather they are symbolic of the stages Blanche will follow throughout the play. She first takes, “a street-car named desire” when she falls for her lost love -----, and afterwards, plagued by her own inadequacies Blanche escapes her harsh world by giving herself freely to other men; strangers. Even her behavior toward Stanley is littered with telltale slips, “—the part blanche talks in French to Stanley saying that she wants him or something.” After desire Blanche transfers “to (a streetcar) called Cemeteries.” One can see where the “Cemeteries” might lie in Blanches life. It seems that every time desire fails Blanche is somehow left unprotected, cold and alone. In scene five Blanches drink, “foams over and spills on her pretty white skirt,” (80) warning the reader of what lies ahead. Finally Blanche is to get off at “Elysian Fields,” which makes it very clear that an eventual loss on Blanches part is inevitable. Joseph Krutch writes, “Though there is in the play a certain haunting dream-like or rather nightmarish quality, the break with reality is never quite made, and nothing happens which might not be an actual event.” How true on not only Blanches part, but each of the characters. The play is so raw and in-your-face that it almost takes on qualities of a fantasy, especially at the time of its debut. But Tennessee was able to create a play that rather expertly walked the fine line between illusion and reality; a task not easily accomplished.
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