A Street Car Named Desire deals with a culture clash between the Old South’s “plantation” mentality (priding itself on false pretenses) and the New South’s relatively uncivilized, yet real, grip on reality. The two characters who come to represent this tension are Blanche and Stanley Kowalski. Blanche advertises herself as a champion of “Southern Honor.” This entails an unfaltering dedication to virtue and culture. These are not, however, driving factors in her life but only mask her alcoholism and delusions of grandeur. By contrast, Stanley is an industrial worker who acts on habit and structure. Tennessee Williams juxtaposes illusion and reality by depicting the antagonistic relationship between the two by consistently employing symbolism. Blanche is constantly escaping the realities of life by retreating into her own fabrications. Her plummet into a delusional world begins when her beloved husband reveals himself to be gay and, soon after, shoots himself. She falls into a spiral of affairs after this event in a search to find emotional satisfaction and to reaffirm her womanhood. She ignores the obvious detrimental effect of her intimacies because all she wants is to be happy again: to be loved. Blanche physically escapes the reality of her life by leaving Belle Reve and Laurel to go to her sister’s home in New Orleans. Here, she misrepresents who she is and enters another relationship where she recreates her identity. When confronted about her lies, Blanche explains that she lies because she refuses to accept the hand fate has dealt her: I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic!
I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them.
I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth.
And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it! (Williams, 34)
Lying to herself and to others allows her to make life appear as she thinks it should be rather than as it is. Her final, deluded happiness...
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