Streetcar Name Desire

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A Streetcar Named Desire: A Light and Dark Perception

There are many connotations leading to the words light and darkness, but generally, most people relate the word light with positive meanings, and they associate the word darkness with negative meanings. However, in the play A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams uses the theme of light and darkness in very interesting ways to further highlight key points and characters. He uses light and darkness in both physical, as in being actually present in the play setting, and literal ways, as seen in dialogues between characters. The most evident and significant emphasis of the theme of light and darkness is on truth and fantasy. Blanche’s Chinese paper lantern which she uses to cover a naked light bulb plays a big role in representing both Blanche’s nature and illusion. The same lantern also subtly, but strongly portrays Stella’s attitude towards Blanche’s negative attributes. One would believe that because light and darkness are complete contrasts of each other, they would never represent similar elements. This is not necessarily true in A Streetcar Named Desire as brightness and darkness clearly help express the passion of Blanche’s love life and the romance between Stanley and Stella.

From the beginning of the play the theme of light and darkness participates in a significant role in illustrating truth and illusion. Not long after Blanche arrives at Stella and Stanley’s home in Elysian Fields, she covers a naked light bulb with a pretty Chinese paper lantern. Physically, the lantern beautifies the interior features of the room by hiding the dullness and poverty with shades of lovely colors. A similar thing happens spiritually. Blanche fabricates stories to hide parts of her past which are not pleasant. To explain for her “retirement” as an English teacher, Blanche says she left by will. In truth, her superior fired her because she was involved in an immoral sexual relationship with a...
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