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A Streetcar Named Desire Williams

In Modern Drama, Leonard Berkman gives us a critical interpretation of heroine of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, in The Tragic Downfall of Blanche duBois. Berkman’s purpose is not to give us an interpretation of the tragic nature of the drama or Blanche. Instead, he focuses on one question of tragic stature: “The terms according to which victory may be considered within the heroine’s grasp, the course of her struggle toward victory, and the pivotal moment in which the struggle turns to defeat” (Berkman 1).

Berkman argues that Blanche has victory in her grasp even at the end of the play as she walks away into madness. At any time, he notes, she could still accuse Stanley of raping her, or she could deny it in order to remain behind with Stella. However, because she does neither, she becomes pathetically helpless as she allows herself to be led away by the doctor. Yet, as Berkman (3-4) notes “Although her hopes for her own future have been crushed, and although she is moving through a siege of terror, she remains free, up through her last moment on stage, to affirm that ideal toward which she has always striven”.

Berkman argues that what causes Blanche’s breakdown or fall is her inability to develop intimacy with others. He supports this contention by giving us a review of her family relations. We know almost nothing about Blanche’s or Stella’s relationship with their parents, but we do see that Stella often flatters Blanche, while Blanche feels she must put on airs to exist in her sister’s environment. In other words, they do not share real intimacy. In her marriage, Blanche did not have intimacy either because her husband was never fully honest with her nor was he able to need her fully. Yet, Blanche’s lack of intimacy in this relationship stems from her inability to be intimate with Allan Grey also. As Berkman notes (2) “Blanche’s concern is more directly that, when made awar...

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A Streetcar Named Desire Williams. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:37, July 01, 2022, from