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A Streetcar Named Desire

In the play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Blanche DuBois is a character whose duality becomes apparent as the play progresses. She holds herself out to be one sort of person with one sort of background, but in fact, her life has been very different from what she pretends. For her, the illusion is a necessity in order to continue to live. For her brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, the illusion is an affront and has to be exposed. In the character of Blanche, the duality derives from a conflict between sexual longing and the spiritual side of her nature in a world that sees the two as separate, when in fact they are combined in every person.

Blanche sees herself as a martyr and is always referring to the way life has treated her. The loss of her and Stella's childhood home is a key reference point. Blanche's character is revealed as it contrasts with that of Stanley -- Blanche aspires to the spiritual, and Stanley just accepts the animal and denies the spiritual. A key conflict in the play is the threat Blanche poses to the domesticity of Stanley and Stella, and from Stanley's point of view this is bound with his belief in reality as contrasted with Blanche's desire to live by illusion. Stanley is a character who is open and direct. From the beginning of the play he is made to seem elemental. The first line of the play is Stanley yelling up at his wife, "Hey, there! Stella, baby!" (Williams 13). He tosses her a package of raw meat, emphasizing his brute nature and the sexual relationship always between them. He is rough and crude, but he is also honest and open. He says what he means and challenges anyone to dispute him. Stanley is happy with his domestic life as it is, and Blanche enters and changes all that. Blanche, on the other hand, never faces reality because it makes her so unhappy, and yet the illusion does little more than hide her unhappiness for a short time.

Each of these three charact...

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A Streetcar Named Desire. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:45, July 04, 2022, from