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“A Streetcar Named Desire'; and “The Glass Menageries were written by Tennessee William in the late Thirties, where the depression made countless of people struggled in poverty. Both of the plays used the typical American family during the Thirties as the background setting. There were many similarities between the plays: including characters and events. Did Tennessee William write the same play twice? Or, did the plays each hold a different meaning underneath?
Before analyzing the two plays, we must first analyze the characters. Blanche Dubois in “A Streetcar Named Desire'; and Laura Wingfield in “The Glass Menageries'; have a lot of similarities throughout the two plays. Blanche and Laura are both living in a separate world from other people. Blanch is living in a world of fantasies, while Laura is living in her world with all the glass Menagerie. Blanche seeks for desires and fantasies only because she feels she murdered her husband. Laura lives in her world of glass animals only because of a disease that gives her a slight physical defect. They are mentally and physically crippled, and they want to use illusions to deceive other people. In P.117 Blanch said “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth.'; Laura does the same thing, where she deceives her mother. She lies to her mother about going to the Business Collage, just like Blanche lies to everyone else about her past.
In “The Glass Menagerie'; the unicorn represents Laura. She is different from all the others, and she would not be able to fit in with the others. She is too sensitive and shy, a very fragile being. Blanche in the play does not fit in with the rest of the people in the community either. She cannot tolerate the way husbands treat their wives in New Orleans, and she is shocked when Stella goes back with Standley after the Polka Night. The same thing happens to
Eunice(Stella’s neighbor) a few scene after. In P. 63 Stella tells Blanche “You are making much too much fuss about this.'; And later says “it wasn’t anything as serious as you seem to take it.'; Blanche will never understand how, or why Stella would go back to Stanley because she doesn’t fit into their community, just like Laura will never fit into hers either.
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Even though there are so many similarities between Blanche and Laura, they also raise many important issues that separate the two plays from one another. Blanche in the play fight against Stanley, in which Blanche represents civilization, and Stanley symbolizes the barbarian. In P. 72 Blanche said “He[Stanley] acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one moves like one, talks like one! ……but Stella - my sister - there has been some progress since then! Such things as art, poetry and music …'; Blanche is suggesting that we are slowly drifting away from civilization. Also Tennessee William shows us that the human desires can result in self-destruction, and he uses Blanche as an example. Blanche’s past is miserable, after her husband’s death, she uses sex or “desires'; to compensate her lost of heart. Her desires send her on a ride of “Cemeteries';, and her destination is death. This idea contrasts with “The Glass Menagerie';. Laura is a shy and sensitive girl. Her life is also ver miserable, however she does not have much desire as blanche does. In P67 of “The Glass Menagerie'; Amanda asks Laura to make a wish to the moon, and Laura asks “What shall I wish for, Mother?'; This line clearly shows that Laura does not have much desire, or may be any at all. If Laura does not have any desire, why does she end up like Blanche?
Tennessee William writes the two plays to illustrate the confusion and corruption of the American society, and he foreshadows the Second World War. The two plays may seem alike, however Tennessee William produces an irony between them to separate them from one another. At the same time he projects a clear image into our mind that we all must have desires in order to survive in our society, but if the desires are too great, or out of control, then they will eventually destroy us.