Illusion plays an important role in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. The play is filled with illusions that serve to blur the lines between reality and fantasy, providing a foundation for many of its characters’ struggles. Through these illusions, Williams critiques society’s attitudes towards women, race and class while examining themes of gender roles and societal expectations.
The most obvious illusion in the play belongs to Blanche DuBois who arrives at her sister’s home on Elysian Fields after being driven by “A Streetcar Named Desire”. She tries to recreate her past life by appearing as if she has not suffered any setbacks and instead focuses on projecting a glamorous image that does not reflect her current state of mind.
Throughout the play, she creates her little world to escape reality. She conceals and fabricates facts revealed later by Stanley as a sign of ambition. Blanche constantly tries to deceive those around her into believing who she is, but it only makes others suspicious about the truth behind her illusions.
She firmly believes that one should never be without fantasy or illusion to deal with life’s harshness, yet these beliefs become an obstacle to “attaining emotional wellbeing” (jmwconfer.org). Even though it appears deceiving at times, fantasies and illusions can protect us from reality when we’re too afraid or unwilling to face hard truths head-on.
Directly related to the theme of illusion, Blanche often presents herself differently through her various costumes. This is almost always done strategically to attract the attention of a suitor and especially Stanley Kowalski, whom she tries to cure of his “brute beastness” with poetic language and symbolism.
Her deceptive nature continues throughout the play as she avoids talking about certain topics, such as her age or where she lived prior- which leads all characters heavily doubt her integrity. As Blanche’s illusions become clear, it becomes evident that by attempting to escape reality, consequences befall her, leading to inevitable tragedy.
Rather than providing answers to reality, Tennessee Williams has used Blanche to provide positive insight. Blanche, desperate and vulnerable in her lifestyle, is looking for momentary happiness, even if it means having secret intentions or fabricating false stories to convince herself that everything will be alright.
Her illusions depicting a fantastical version of life provide more understanding of the entire scenario by emphasizing choosing an innocent path rather than one which deals with harsh realities. This explains how, despite being far from the ideal, she still desires acceptance and compassion from others. In the end, although Blanche’s tendency towards illusion may not help her find solutions, it gives her hope.
Blanche has no clear long-term goal to pursue in life; instead, she focuses on immediate gratification and fails to acknowledge the consequences of her actions. She is a different “breed” woman who does not fear judgment or challenge established boundaries. This attitude culminates from an unwillingness to conform to societal norms, which conflicts with her dream of pursuing hope.
Blanche, however, is also forlorn after discovering that true happiness can never be attained either way due to various reasons throughout the play reflecting on social life at the time and censorship by society. Her current problems originated when Stanley arrived at Stella’s home, and he began to unravel secrets about Blanche: frightening secrets which lead her down a path where she clung to fantasies more than reality, ultimately causing her insane behavior toward the play’s conclusion.
Blanche’s main battle is with time and accepting what happens to her because of her PTSD. With the help from the other characters in Streetcar, they can bring out a different version of Blanche, who eventually accepts reality or as much as she can. Although Blanche had many dark moments, she found a way to maintain herself by keeping an illusion, even if you don’t always realize it.
Although Blanche never truly accepts the inevitability of aging or death, she still keeps her innocence in trying to forget these inevitable truths. For example, when Stanley’s friend Steve came with an idea for a party so Stanley can get back at Blanche for publicly humiliating him earlier that day, Blanche insists on making herself a victim by using “her veneer of innocent Southern charm even after all her efforts fail” (Spampinato, 219). In this instance, again expresses how blanches tragic flaw is her ignorance and lack of acceptance of reality.
Stanley also appreciates Blanche’s fragile innocence and obsession with men as he makes despiteful comments towards her, such as “this constant tendency you have of coming up twelve miles an hour on a tenmile-an-hour zone…makes everybody jumpy,” (9.67). However, Stanley does not understand the fragility of Blanche’s trust. He only uses this to abuse her since it is easy for him to decide based on his gain instead of trying to understand what she truly wants from their relationship.
This is a sample paper that is available to one and all. If you want a unique paper, send us an order and get it written by our professional writers.
Free Revision & Money Back Guarantee
Enter your email, and we shall get back to you in an hour.