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Streetcar Named Desire Themes Analysis Essay

Major Themes of A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

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Major Themes of A Streetcar Named Desire

There are 3 major themes in the play A Streetcar Named Desire, the first is the constant battle between fantasy and reality, second we have the relationship between sexuality and death, and lastly the dependence of men plays a major role in this book.
One of the first major themes of this book is the constant battle between fantasy and reality. Blanche explains to Mitch that she fibs because she refuses to accept the hand fate has dealt her. Lying to herself and to others allows her to make life appear as it should be rather than as it is. Stanley, a practical man firmly grounded in the physical world, disdains Blanche’s fabrications and does everything he can to unravel them. The…show more content…

The next major theme of the book is the relationship between sexuality and death. Blanche’s fear of death manifests itself in her fears of aging and of lost beauty. She refuses to tell anyone her true age or to appear in harsh light that will reveal her faded looks. She seems to believe that by continually asserting her sexuality, especially toward men younger than herself, she will be able to avoid death and return to the world of teenage bliss she experienced before her husband’s suicide. Blanche’s lifelong pursuit of her sexual desires has led to her eviction from Belle Reve, her ostracism from Laurel, and, at the end of the play, her expulsion from society at large. Sex leads to death for others Blanche knows as well. Throughout the play, Blanche is haunted by the deaths of her ancestors, which she attributes to their “epic fornications.” Her husband’s suicide results from her disapproval of his homosexuality.
Lastly the dependence of men plays an extremely large role in this book. Williams uses Blanche’s and Stella’s dependence on men to expose and critique the treatment of women during the transition from the old to the new South. Both Blanche and Stella see male companions as their only means to achieve happiness, and they depend on men for both their sustenance and their self-image. Blanche recognizes that Stella could be happier without her physically abusive husband, Stanley. Yet, the alternative Blanche

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Many critics believe that Williams invented the idea of desire for the 20th century. The power of sexual desire is the engine propelling A Streetcar Named Desire: all of the characters are driven by “that rattle-trap street-car” in various ways.

Much of Blanche’s conception of how she operates in the world relies on her perception of herself as an object of male sexual desire. Her interactions with men always begin with flirtation. Blanche tells Stella that she and Stanley smoothed things over when she began to flirt with him. When Blanche meets Stanley’s poker-playing friends, she lights upon Mitch as a possible suitor and adopts the guise of a chaste lover for him to pursue.

Blanche nearly attacks the Young Man with her aggressive sexuality, flirting heavily with him and kissing him. Blanche dresses provocatively in red satin, silks, costume jewelry, etc: she calls attention to her body and her femininity through her carefully cultivated appearance. Blanche clings to her sexuality more and more desperately as the play progresses. To Blanche, perhaps motivated by her discovery that her first husband was in fact homosexual, losing her desirability is akin to losing her identity and her reason to live.

Stella’s desire for Stanley pulls her away from Belle Reve and her past. Stella is drawn to Stanley’s brute, animal sexuality, and he is drawn to her traditional, domestic, feminine sexuality. Stella is pregnant: her sexuality is deeply tied to both womanliness and motherhood. Even though Stanley is violent to Stella, their sexual dynamic keeps them together. When Blanche is horrified that Stanley beats Stella, Stella explains that the things that a man and a woman do together in the dark maintain their relationship.

Stanley’s sexuality and his masculinity are extremely interconnected: he radiates a raw, violent, brute animal magnetism. Stanley’s sexuality asserts itself violently over both Stella and Blanche. Although he hits Stella, she continues to stay with him and to submit to his force. While Stella is at the hospital giving birth to his child, Stanley rapes Blanche: the culmination of his sexual act with Stella coincides with the tragic culmination of his destined date with Blanche.

Throughout the play, sexual desire is linked to destruction. Even in supposedly loving relationships, sexual desire and violence are yoked: Stanley hits Stella, and Steve beats Eunice. The “epic fornications” of the DuBois ancestors created a chain reaction that has culminated in the loss of the family estate. Blanche’s pursuit of sexual desire has led to the loss of Belle Reve, her expulsion from Laurel, and her eventual removal from society. Stanley’s voracious carnal desire culminates in his rape of Blanche. Blanche’s husband’s “unacceptable” homosexual desire leads to his suicide.

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