To What Extent Does Williams Present Desire as a Tragic Flaw in Scene Six of ‘a Streetcar Named Desire’

Topics: Tragic hero, Tragedy, Blanche DuBois Pages: 4 (1642 words) Published: April 29, 2013
To what extent does Williams present desire as a tragic flaw in scene six of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

In A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche’s flaws that lead to her downfall are abundant. If we are to view Blanche Dubois as a tragic heroine, then it is in scene six that her tragic flaws are especially evident, and in particular desire. They are so prevalent here as it is arguably the beginning of Blanche’s demise and as in Shakespearean tragedy; it is in the centre of the play that we see the beginning of the protagonist’s downfall. Desire, as her harmartia, is represented in several ways in scene six. One of the ways in which Williams presents desire as Blanche’s harmartia is through the symbol of the “streetcar named Desire still grinding along the tracks at this hour”[1], The streetcar is never-ending and has one track and a set destination. This is much like Blanche’s sexual desire which will lead her along one inevitable tragic track. The symbol of the streetcar is also powerful because it represents how she is literally and metaphorically taken to New Orleans, and thereby her eventual ruin. New Orleans exits here as a symbol of the new world in the play and the eventual industrialisation of the south, which is arguably how her downfall comes about through her inability to adapt to a changing environment; as she still thinks of herself as a ‘southern belle’ and can’t deal with the pace at which the world is moving. This rapid pace of change which leads to her eventual ruin ties in again to the symbol of the streetcar, which too is fast paced and is continually used to represent the inevitable path to a catastrophic fate. Blanche’s sexual desire for Mitch is revealed through the line “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir?”[2], however, this line could also convey the power that Blanche has over Mitch by speaking a language he does not understand, highlighting not only Mitch’s ignorance but also Blanche’s own insecurities; in that...
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