Street Car Named Desire Essay

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"truth is a mutating, subjective figure in streetcar with each of the principals having different relationship with the idea of truth" How does Tennessee Williams express these relationships and what role do they have on the narrative?

• Make sure you think carefully about the play, details, allusions, themes of the play that you can incorporate • Undermining the academics of the play
• Have insights from the play that leak into your own ideas and narrative

Stanley’s attitude towards truth- he actively seeks truth
Stella blocks truth out and doesn’t want to see it, hiding and twisting the truth Blanche manipulates the truth, interpreting some things and twisting it into her own new perspective. Blanche covers the truth up, hiding it being paper lanterns, constantly bathing, dressing it up in what she wants it to be, believing she has the power of bending reality to her own will and manipulating the truth to suite her own personal needs.

Stanleys role is to peel away, blanches layer of illusion, and stella is caught inbetween; aware of lies but choosing to imitate her sisters way of dealing with reality by changing it to suit her life

Choose three incidents in the play and try to write at least three paragraphs exploring this. E.g Stanley finding papers in stellas trunk about loss of belle reve and effect of it, rape scene primal man how is he shown this way, final scene of blanche being taken away to the mental asylum, blanche refuses to acknowledge that she is crazy.

Always refer to dramatic devices, symbolism of poker and music reflecting blanches state of mind. Stage directions used as dramatic devices.

When stella says “ I couldn’t believe balnche and go on living with Stanley”


Blanche’s transfer of the Belle Reve papers into Stanley’s “big capable hands” (scene3), may symbolise the end of the rural, agrarian Old South and all its values (represented by Blanche), and its replacement by a more brutal, post-war, industrial, world (represented by Stanley).

Consider the symbolism of Stanley saying to Stella, “I was common as dirt – you showed me the snapshot of the place with columns – I pulled you down off them columns!”(scene8)

Stanley may represent forces of modernisation which cannot be resisted. He represents invigorating energy which can be tapped (as Stella does – remember she is pregnant). To resist it (as Blanche attempts to) leads to destruction.

Mitch subtly linked to Blanche by his anxiety over his sick mother ‘I’ll be alone when she goes’ providing an association with sickness and dread of loneliness

Blanche asks Mitch to cover the light bulb to conceal her age ‘I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or vulgar action’

In scene 2 ‘I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion.’ Blanche’s desire for illusion in opposition to the harsh realties that surround her is arguably the plays central thematic concern. It is significant that Mitch is the one who both installs the lantern and in Scene 9, removes it for these actions define the period during which he sees Blanche as she wants him to see her, under the spell of an illusion she has created.

Blanche can be described in metatheatrical terms as she costumes herself from the trunk containing fake furs and costume jewelry, designing lighting effects with Mitch as her enthralled audience, adding musical underscoring.

Stanley aggressively seeks the truth and hints that he has been hearing from ‘somebody named Shaw’ about Blanche’s reputation back in Laurel after which Blanche tells Stella ‘I wasn’t so good the last two years or so, after Belle Reve had started to slip through my fingers.’

In scene 6 Blanche reminisces about Allan Grey, the boy she married at sixteen, whom she loved deeply without understanding the kind of help he sought from her – until she discovered him in a room together ‘the boy I had married and...
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