Illusions in a Streetcar Named Desire

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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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