Illusion and Fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams Essay

Illusion and Fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams Essay

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Illusion and Fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams


An illusion is fake belief whereas fantasy is imagining fanciful
visions. Both these themes are important in the play because they show
how they can be mistaken for reality by each character in the play.

The themes illusion and fantasy are involved from the start of the
play. We learn from when Stanley throws the package of meat down to
Stella that he is a dominant character and that his relationship with
Stella isn’t as happy as it may seem to be. Even in scene 2, Stanley’s
aggressiveness is shown towards Stella, ‘since when do you give me
orders?’. However, the most significant example of his brutality is
during the Poker Game in scene 3. This is where the themes illusion
and fantasy are brought in, because Stella lives in a fantasy world
with Stanley. We learn how Stanley keeps Stella under the thumb.
However violent Stanley might be, she won’t reveal that her
relationship has problems to Blanche or anyone, ‘it wasn’t anything as
serious as you seem to take it. In the first place, when men are
drinking and playing poker anything can happen.’ Stella has
psychologically made herself get used to this behaviour from Stanley,
‘why, on our wedding – soon as we came in here – he snatched off one
of my slippers and rushed about the place, smashing the light bulbs
with it.’ She has made it seem normal because she is illusioned by the
thought that what they have is too strong to let go. Stanley is like
an addictive drug to her, for example, in scene 4, Stella is in
‘narcotised tranquillity’. However rough he may be, Stella needs
Stanley as a fix. It is as though she is brainwashed by him. When
Blanche comments on the previous nights even...


... middle of paper ...


...he
becomes desperate and unhinged. She sees marriage as her only means of
escaping her demons, so Mitch’s rejection amounts to a sentence of
living in her internal world. Once Mitch crushes the make-believe
identity Blanche has constructed for herself, Blanche begins to
descend into madness. With no audience for her lies, which Blanche
admits are necessary when she tells Mitch that she hates reality and
prefers “magic,” Blanche begins performing for herself. Yet Blanche’s
escapist tendencies no longer show her need to live in a world full of
pleasant bourgeois ease. Instead of fancy and desire, her new
alternate reality reflects regret and death. She is alone, afraid of
both the dark and the light; her own mind provides her with a last
support of escape. Her fantasies control her, not the other way
around, but still she shrinks from the horror of reality.

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