'A Streetcar Named Desire' Themes and Quotes

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  • 'A Street Car Named Desire' Themes
    • Fantasy/ Illusion
      • Blanche lives in her own illusion, her fantasy is her protection against others and herself
      • They come from her weakness to confront the truth
      • She is quixotic- seeing the world as it ought to be
      • Her world is contrasted with Stanley's realism, and in the end it is Stanley's view that wins
      • Stella also resorts to her own illusion, as she forces herself to disprove Blanches allogations against Stanley
        • This in many ways reflects the little power that women would have had during the 1940s
    • The Old South and the New South
      • Stella and Blanche come from this dying world
      • Their plantation has been 'lost' and the sisters are the last living members of their families and symbolically, their old world of cavaliers and cotton fields
      • It was not conquered by General Sherman's Army, but instead over time, just as the beauty of 'Southern Belle' Blanche fades as well
      • Blanche attempts to live in the past but as the end of the play reveals, this is impossible
      • Stella only survives by changing her attitudes, moving to New Orleans and marrying Stanley
    • Cruelty
      • Blanche despises deliberate cruelty
      • Stanley's final assault against Blanche is a merciless attack to an already destroyed Blanche
      • Whilst Blanche is dishonest, she never does it out of hatred
        • Her cruelty is unintentional
      • Range of cruelty throughout the play as Williams  attempts to show the many ways to hurt someone
        • Blanche's well-intentioned deceits
        • Stella's self-deceiving treachery
        • Stanley's deliberate, unchecked malice
    • The Primitive and the Primal
      • Stanley represents a very unrefined manhood, a romantic idea of a man untouched by civilisation
        • Stella cannot resist him, whereas Blanche often describes him as ape-like and primitive
      • His unrefined nature is a terrifying amorality- he has no qualms about driving his sister-in-law to madness
      • In Freudian terms, Stanley is pure id, Blanche represents the super-ego and Stella the ego
        • The balancing between is not found only by Stella, but in the tension within Blanche herself
          • She is so terrified of Stanley that she hides within herself
    • Desire
      • Central theme in the play
      • Desire is one of Blanches driving motivations; but her desire ends up driving her out of town
        • She is either trying to suppress her desire or attempting to pursue it with abandon
      • Physical desire is at the heart of Stanley and Stella's relationship
    • Loneliness
      • Blanche's companion to her desire is her loneliness
      • She desperately seeks a companion and protection from strangers
      • She has never recovered from her tragic and consuming love for her first husband
    • Desire vs Cemeteries/ Romance vs Realism
      • Parallels between lust and death, tension between romantic and realistic
      • Blanche takes streetcars 'Desire' and 'Cemeteries' which symbolise her final destination
      • All of Blanche's previous sexual encounters are tangled with death, relates to the actual names of the streetcars
    • Quotes
      • "They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at- Elysian Fields!"
        • Scene 1
      • "Whoever you are- I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
        • Scene 11
      • "I want to be near you, got to be with somebody, I can't be alone."
        • Scene 1
      • "Something- ape- like about him... Thousands and thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is- Stanley Kowalksi- survivor of the stone age!"
        • Scene 4
      • "I don't think I want to marry you anymore... You're not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother."
        • Scene 9
      • "I am not a Polack. People from Poland are Poles, not Polacks. But what I am is one hundred percent American, born and raised in the greatest country on Earth."
        • Scene 8
      • "You need somebody. And I need somebody too. Could it be- you and me, Blanche?"
        • Scene 6


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