The Role of Alcohol in A Streetcar Named Desire

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I was so drunk last night that I cheated on my girlfriend, but I don’t remember it, so does it count? People instinctively try to place blame on anything but themselves, and alcohol presents itself as the perfect escape route for a guilty conscience. People often find themselves making impulsive decisions more frequently while under the influence of alcohol. However, how much poor behavior can alcohol excuse before a person must accept the consequences for their own actions? Tennessee Williams delves into the theme of alcohol dependence throughout his play, A Streetcar Named Desire. Throughout the play, both Blanche and Stanley seem to rely heavily upon liquor. Alcohol is used as both a crutch and an excuse for poor behavior in A Streetcar Named Desire, and has become even more prevalent in today’s society.

Throughout A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche Dubois, the protagonist, frequently uses alcohol to escape the hysteria that she faces each day due to the loss of both her homosexual husband and her affluence, “…retreating further into a world of fantasy and cleverly evolved artifice” ("A Streetcar Named Desire Theme of Drugs and Alcohol”). Upon entering the Kowalski’s’ household, Blanche pours herself half of a tumbler of whiskey. This act foreshadows her outright dependence on the substance. It is evident throughout the play that she tries to keep up her aristocratic façade by only drinking whiskey, which is an expensive and strong form of liquor. Blanche recognizes that drinking ruins her reputation and that it also contradicts with her “southern belle” persona, which is why she tries to conceal it as much as possible. She states when offered a second drink from Stella in scene one, “No, one’s my limit” (Williams 14). As ...

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