Essay On Symbolism In A Streetcar Named Desire

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Throughout A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams uses symbolism to reveal aspects about the characters. Williams uses light and dark to symbolize Blanche’s need to live in an illusion showing how people often struggle to accept the harsh truth of reality.
Throughout the play Blanche tries to hide who she really is and creates her own fantasy to live in. One of the first times we see Blanche start to set up her illusion is through the use of the paper lantern. Blanche asks Mitch to place a paper lantern over the light bulb in the room claiming she “can’t stand a naked light bulb” (Williams, 60). Blanche is trying to get Mitch to transform the light bulb so that she too can transform her life (Brown, 2). By altering the light bulb Blanche is able to live her life in the shadows and hide all of
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Stanley is the one who ultimately tears down the fantasy Blanche has built for herself. He is the one who finds out about Blanche’s past affairs and scandalous lifestyle, he is the one who tells everyone, and he is the one to rip the paper lantern off of the light at the end of the play (Williams, 176). By ripping the paper lantern off of the light, Williams is symbolically having Stanley tear down all of Blanche’s illusions. Blanche cannot live in Stanley’s world. While he likes people to be upfront and truthful, Blanche likes to live in a world of delusions. As Xu states “Blanche is as delicate and pathetic as a paper lantern; she cannot face up to the hard light of Stanley’s vision of reality” (79). Where the truth has given Stanley power, it has only made Blanche weaker. To Blanche reality means the death of her family, her husband, accepting that she is getting older. The grief that comes along with the truth is something that Blanche cannot handle. Stanley forces the truth on Blanche and forces her to take on all of this grief at once resulting in the collapse of her mental
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