Illusions in A Streetcar Named Desire
In Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire, there are many
examples where the characters are using illusions in an attempt to escape
The best example is found by looking to the main character.
Blanche Dubois was a troubled woman who throughout the play lives her life
in illusions. The story begins with Blanche going to New Orleans to stay
with her sister Stella, and her husband Stanley for a while. Here, the
illusions are revealed and the battle between the illusions and the
characters will begin. What initially leads to her illusions is love.
When she was young, "sixteen, I made the discovery - love. All at once and
much, much too completely" (1368). She met Allan Grey, the perfect man -
he had "a nervousness, a softness and tenderness which wasn't like a man's,
although he wasn't the least bit effeminate" (1368).
However, as we are eventually are shown, this illusion wouldn't
last forever. The young couple got married and, to Blanche, were falling
more and more in love, when one day "coming into a room that I thought was
empty" (1368), this illusion would be shattered. In this room were her
husband, Allan, and a older male friend of his. Allan Grey was gay. Soon,
Blanche realised that all along he had been trying to let her know and get
"the help he needed but couldn't speak of! He was in the quicksands and
clutching at me - but I wasn't holding him out, I was slipping in with
him!" (1368). She was falling farther into the illusion with each passing
second with her love, because she couldn't really believe that he was with
her and was for real.
Allan was in fact an illusion himself, by trying to appear straight
to everyone. At first, they would try to deny it but the illusion would
soon be totally destroyed when Blanche let it slip while they were dancing
that "I saw! I know! You disgust me..." (1369). With this, Allan runs
outside and kills himself. I believe that Allan killed himself more so
because he realised Blanche would no longer help him than because she knew.
He believed that if there was anyone who would help him make it through
this whole ordeal, it would be Blanche.
Because of all this, Blanche fell into another illusion. She
figured that if she were loved again, the way Allan and her were meant to
be, then she could be happy again. So, "after the death of Allan -
intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart
with..." (1380 - 1381). The illusion, now, was that out of all these men
she would be with, one of them will be the right one for her and will take
care of her. This was her desire, to be happy again, to be loved. But
soon her intimacies got out of control and she once made the mistake of
trying to seduce a 17 - year old student of hers. Because of this, she was
told to get out of her town.
When Blanche gets to New Orleans, she decides that in order to not
reveal anything, she must create the illusions that she is happy and the
reason she is there is because she's on vacation. This is so that nobody
would think less of her. For example, when she first arrives and meets
with Stella, she keeps saying that the quality of the apartment that Stella
lives is not good enough for Stella to live in. And she was always having
baths so no one would see her dirty or tired. Blanche believes that she is
too old so she uses the darkness to shield herself.
Soon, she meets a friend of Stanley's, Mitch, and eventually she
starts to think that maybe he is the one. Immediately, she realises that
Mitch needs someone too, and eventually he even tells her so ("You need
somebody and I need somebody too" (1369)). But, Blanche has learned from
her mistakes and honestly gives...
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