A Streetcar Named Desire - Symbols

Summary of the symbols in Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire.

View mindmap
  • Symbols
    • The Streetcar
      • Elysian Fields
        • Last stop on the line, paradoxically going no where - dead end.
        • Life lived in transit - no destination.
        • Greek mythology = final resting place of the souls of the heroic.
          • Far from being the resting place she is seeking, the neighborhood is densely populated, poor, hot and loud from the noise of jazz and streetcars and trains.
      • Williams called the streetcar, the "ideal metaphor for the human condition."
      • Power of desire.
      • Desire is a controlling force.
    • Varsouviana Polka
      • Associated with Blanche's young husband's suicide.
      • Plays in Blanche's mind.
    • Bathing
      • Attempt for purification
        • Ritual cleansing = Pontius Pilate.
        • Reminiscent of Lady Macbeth's famous hand-washing in Macbeth - the queen tries and fails to wash blood from her guilty hands.
        • Blanche seeks rejuvenation, as though the bathwater were a Fountain of Youth.
    • Paper lantern
      • Blanche's attempt to mask her past and her present appearance.
        • Only a temporary solution that can easily be ripped away.
      • A paper world cloaking reality also appears in the song, "Paper Moon".
    • Alcohol
      • When Stanley gets drunk, his masculinity is exaggerated.
      • Blanche uses drinking as an escape mechanism.
    • Names
      • Blanche means white and DuBois means woods in French.
        • Blanche self-identifies with the woods - a dark, solitary confinement.
        • Blanche as a blank white page waiting to be written on.
        • "To blanch" means to turn pale through shock. It has other meanings involving unnatural, traumatic processes.
    • Mental illness
      • Williams' sister Rose was given a lobotomy and institutionalised for much of her life.
        • Rose is also depicted in The Glass Menagerie.
    • Repressed homosexuality
      • = Otherness and oppression


No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

See all English Literature resources »See all A Streetcare Named Desire resources »