Death in A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

Death in A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

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Death in A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams uses the theme of death continually in the play ‘A
Streetcar Named Desire’ through the use of dramatic imagery and
literal references. The characters of Blanche and Mitch are used the
most frequently to express Williams’ own obsession with death. Though
neither of the characters actually obsesses about death, Blanche’s
life has been smothered by the deaths of those she loves and the
coming death of Mitch’s mother is an obvious motivation for his

Blanche first voices the theme of death in the very first scene whilst
discussing the fate that has befallen Belle Reve. She passionately
raves at length about the horrible deaths and her experience of loved
ones dying around her; “all of those deaths… Father, Mother, Margaret,
that dreadful way!” The horrific visions of bloated bodies and “the
struggle for breath and breathing” have clearly cast a permanent
effect on Blanche’s mind. She talks of the quiet funerals and the
“gorgeous boxes” that were the coffins, with bitter, black humour. The
deaths of Blanche and Stella’s family are important to the play as
they highlight the desperation of Blanche’s situation through the fact
that she has no other relative to turn to. This makes Stella’s
decision at the end of the play seem even harsher than if Blanche had
just simply shown up on her doorstep instead of going elsewhere.

Stella states that Blanche’s life has been heavily affected by the
death of her husband, Allan. Blanche’s marriage “killed her illusions”
which can be interpreted literally. Blanche states that she fell in
love “all at once and much, much too completely,” however, her love
was unrequited since instead of returning the love Blan...

... middle of paper ...

...o have experienced some sorrow,”
which Mitch agrees with, thus revealing that he has been affected by
the loss of this girl. This statement also emphasises much of
Blanche’s own views on sorrow and explains how it has affected her
life since she has made the comment from personal experience.

To conclude, Tennessee Williams’ dramatic use of death and dying is an
overarching theme in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ from which everything
about Blanche’s character has formed from. Without the death of Allan,
Blanche would not have resorted to prostitution and the brief affairs
with strangers, also the deaths of her family have driven Blanche to
Stella’s where she is “not wanted” and “ashamed to be”. Therefore
these dramatic deaths have lead to the past which comes back to haunt
Blanche meaning that she can never find happiness until she dies and
is forgotten.

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