Motifs and Symbols in A Streetcar Named Desire

HideShow resource information
View mindmap
  • Motifs and Symbols in A Streetcar Named Desire
    • Light
      • Throughout the play Blanche avoids appearing in direct bright, light, especially in front of Mitch
        • She also refuses to reveal he age, and it's clear that she avoids the light in order to prevent him from seeing the reality of her fading beauty
        • Blanche's inability to tolerate light means that her grasp on reality is also nearing it's end
      • Light also symbolizes the reality of Blanche's past
        • She is haunted by the ghosts of what she has lost: her first love, her purpose in life, her dignity and her status
      • Bright light represents her youthful, sexual innocence, whereas poor light represents her sexual maturity
    • Bathing
      • These baths represent Blanche's efforts to cleanse herself of her unpleasant history
      • Stanley also turns to water to undo a misdeed when she showers after beating Stella
        • The shower serves to soothe his violent temper; afterwards he leaves the bathroom feeling remorseful and calls out longingly for his wife
    • Drunkenness
      • Both Stanley and Blanche drink excessively at various points during the play
        • Stanley's drinking is social: at poker games, at the bar, and to celebrate the birth of his first child
        • However, Blanche's drinking is anti-social and she tries to hide it
      • For both characters, drinking leads to destructive behavior: Stanley commits domestic violence, and Blanche deludes herself
        • Stanley is able to rebound from his drunken escapades, whereas alcohol supplements Blanche's gradual departure from reality
    • Shadows
      • Discordant noises and jungle cries occur as Blanche descends into madness
      • All of these effects combine to dramatize Blanche's final breakdown and departure from reality in the face of Stanley's physical threat
    • The Varsouviana Polka
      • This polka music plays at various points in the play, when Blanche is feeling remorse for Allan's death
      • The polka and the movement it evokes represents Blanche's loss of innocence
        • The suicide of her young husband was the event that triggered her mental decline
    • Meat
      • By hurling the meat at Stella in Scene 1, Stanley states the sexual ownership over Stella, and Stella's delight with catching the meat signifies her sexual infatuation with him

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar English Literature resources:

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