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Literary Analysis Essay of Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

0 August 11 2014, 14:47 in Literary Essay

Literary Analysis Essay of Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is one of the famous works of the American playwright. Since its creation in 1947, the piece has debuted in Broadway and has been adapted on various films, opera ballet and television. The plot centers on the story of Blanche Dubois and her sister Stella. The story begins when Blanche social status has declined due to controversy and debt. In seeking refuge to her sister’s home with her husband Stanley Kowalski, readers are able to comprehend her past and eventually lead to the clash with his brother-in-law. As Blanche’s secret is revealed, audiences are able to understand her predicament and how all these led to her insanity at the end of the story.

Dwelling deeper into the play, one of the most important themes that stood out is the depiction of fantasy and reality by the characters. The one that stood out was Blanche and her continued fantasy that she can rise above her current struggles. On the other side, there is of course Stanley who remains to be straightforward and understands the situation he and Stella lives (Williams 1). By patterning their personalities this way, the story is able to portray the clash between two people. For instance, Blanche’s delusions remained to be significant because it served as a shield on the backlash and judgment she is receiving from other people (Marotous 1). The contrasting features of appearances and reality influenced how both characters responded to the situations happening.

The play also expounds on the relationship that exists between men and women. Looking closely, Williams characterizes both Blanche and Stella to be dependent on men. Their actions remain to be restricted based on specific expectations and norms on how women should behave. In the story, both women recognize the significance of men in shaping their happiness regardless of how they are treated (Mannan 1). For example, the scene wherein Stella succumbs to his pleading husband after he beat her up illustrates such connection. Despite the physical abuse committed by Stanley, her loyalty remains to be with the family (Williams 1). The same response can also be seen with Blanche’s relationship with Mitch. In particular, she sees him as the answer to her problems and rescues her from the mistakes of the past. However, when Mitch refused to pursue her further, Blanche then thinks of Shep Huntleigh. This illusion and continued dependence would ultimately lead to her downfall.

The use of motifs is also valuable in allowing viewers to appreciate Tennessee’s work. One example to depict this is the state of drunkenness among characters in the story. Here, it presents the excessive drinking of both Blanche and Stanley. Though this may seem to be the case, there are arguably differing reasons for such. For Stanley, it is more of a social act wherein he drinks in order to celebrate an important event or share these with friends (Williams 1). This is different from Blanche as he uses alcohol as a form of escape. It is through her state of drunkenness that she feels relieved and numbed down from the harsh realities she has to face. Despite having different approaches in dealing with drunkenness, both characters experienced its destructiveness and negative impact to behavior.

Overall, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire’ remains to be a powerful piece because it portrays an important aspect that shaped his life. The experiences of depression, alcoholism and loneliness continue to resonate within Williams’s life. By putting together this story, the author is able to connect his life to audiences and promote important lessons that would highlight the significance and value of choices we make and how it continues to define who we are as individuals.

Works Cited

Mannan, Fahmida. ‘Analysis of Street Car Named Desire by Tennessee Williams’ Humanities 360. 19 Mar. 2007. Web. Accessed 4 August 2014.

Marotous, George. ‘Critical Commentary: A Streetcar Named Desire’ Melbourne High School, 2006. Web. Accessed 4 August 2014.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire,1947. Web. Accessed 4 August 2014.


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