Themes in A Streetcar Named Desire

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The play A Streetcar Named Desire revolves around Blanche DuBois; therefore, the main theme of the drama concerns her directly. In Blanche is seen the tragedy of an individual caught between two worlds-the world of the past and the world of the present-unwilling to let go of the past and unable, because of her character, to come to any sort of terms with the present. The final result is her destruction. This process began long before her clash with Stanley Kowalski. It started with the death of her young husband, a weak and perverted boy who committed suicide when she taunted him with her disgust at the discovery of his perversion. In retrospect, she knows that he was the only man she had ever loved, and from this early catastrophe evolves her promiscuity. She is lonely and frightened, and she attempts to fight this condition with sex. Desire fills the emptiness when there is no love and desire blocks the inexorable movement of death, which has already wasted and decayed Blanche's ancestral home Belle Reve.

For Blanche, Belle Reve was the one remaining symbol of a life and a tradition that she knows in her heart have vanished, yet to which she clings with a desperate tenacity. She is dated. Her speech, manners and habit are foolishly passe, but still she cannot abandon this sense of herself as someone special, as a "lady" in the grand tradition. She knows she is an anachronism in an alien world and yet she will not compromise. She cannot and will not surrender the dream she has of herself, and even though she wants desperately not to be lonely, it is precisely the clinging to this dream, the airs, mannerisms and sense of herself, which alienate her further. She is trapped in a terrifying contradiction. Her ne...

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...his search for love, for the need to fill the void within her, is the essential reason for her promiscuity. Mitch, too, is a victim of loneliness. Although bound to his aged mother, he is restless and unsatisfied. He feels incomplete and longs for someone who will give him a sense of wholeness. He, like Blanche, had loved once and lost. In the mutual need of Blanche and Mitch, and in their inability to fulfill this need, they beautifully and poignantly express the theme of loneliness.

Works Cited

Adler, Thomas P. A Streetcar Named Desire: the Moth and the Lantern. Boston: Twayne, 1990.

Miller, Jordan. Twentieth Century Interpretations of a Streetcar Named Desire: a collection of critical essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1971.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: New American Library, 1942.
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