Symbolism in a Streetcar Named Desire Blanche's Dubois Mysterious Life

Topics: Light, Incandescent light bulb Pages: 2 (821 words) Published: February 21, 2002
In Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire, the character of Blanche Dubois is a vivid example of the use of symbolism throughout the play. Blanche wants to view things in an unrealistic way. "I don't want realism. I want 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…" (Blanche p.117). She doesn't want reality; instead she wishes to view a rose-colored version of life that goes along with her old-fashioned southern belle personality. Blanche doesn't want to face the reality of her problems. She wants everything to be softened and dimmed for her, just as the light is softened and dimmed by the shade. "Light" often symbolizes truth, which is why she doesn't like to stand in an illuminated room. She hides from reality and lives in a world of her own creation. "I can't stand a naked bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action…" (Blanche p.55 scene 3). She had bought a little colored paper lantern to put it over the light bulb, so the room could get that mysterious touch that she wanted. "…Soft people have got to shimmer and glow- they've got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and put a paper lantern over the light… It isn't enough to be soft. You've got to be soft and attractive. And I-I'm fading now! I don't know how much longer I can turn the trick…" (Blanche p. 79 scene 5). Blanche can also now look at herself in the more favorable dimmed light, where the passage of time isn't quite as visible. Under this precept, she doesn't have to accept her fading beauty.

In the play she is constantly taking luxurious baths, which reflect her necessity to cleanse herself of her awful dealings, to rid her body of the grit of everyday life and the harsh, unforgiving world that surrounds her, "…all freshly bathed and scented, and feeling like a brand new human being!" (Blanche p.37 scene 2). She feels dirty and wants to release all her sins, taking long baths...
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