To What Extent Does Williams Develop the Tragedy of the Play Through His Presentation of the Past?

Topics: Tragedy, Leave of absence, Blanche DuBois Pages: 4 (1380 words) Published: May 7, 2013
‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ sees aristocratic Blanche Dubois unexpectedly arrive at her sister’s house under mysterious circumstances. Not only this but from the moment she arrives she seems to cleverly hide details of her past expanding the air of mystery which surrounds her. William’s cleverly weaves Blanche’s past into the narrative so as the play moves forward more and more aspects of her past are revealed, deepening our understanding of the real reasons that she has had to move in with Stella. As the play unfolds and the past is revealed Blanche appears to struggle to keep herself mentally under control as the reality of her situation threatens to overcome her and it is this which leads to her eventual tragic downfall. The past is important both structurally and psychologically throughout the play. Psychologically, the past has its main tragic and most destructive impact on Blanche who finds that her mind is lost in her luxurious past life (although as we see Blanche’s past affects all three of the other characters in different ways). She can’t seem to move on and the realisation of what she has lost and the consequences eventually catch up with her and seems to be the biggest factor in her inevitable but tragic downfall.

The first traumatic glance that we get into Blanche’s past depicts the sudden loss of her home: The Belle Reve. This represents the past, death and the false illusion of pastoral beauty which appears to be the world that Blanche has found herself trapped in. Blanche tells Stella that she “…tried to hold it together…” which could later link in with her trying to hold herself together, adding to the realisation that Blanche’s traumatic past has heavily influenced her present life. Blanche also reveals that whilst Stella “…abandoned the Belle Reve…” she “…stayed and fought for it, bled for it, almost died for it…” She then describes staying at home and witnessing “…all those deaths…” This paints Blanche’s adolescence as morbid and unstable...
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