Themes of death and desire in

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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" Desire, unreined, leads to death" To took what extent to Tennessee Williams's plays lend support to such a proposition? Speaking to a reporter in 1963 Tennessee Williams said, " Death is my best theme, don't you think? The pain of dying is what worries me, not the act. After all, nobody gets out of life alive. "1 The themes of death and desire are central in the play A Streetcar Named to Desire. When the play was released in 1948 it caused a storm, its sexual content was controversial to say the least, but also it was, "virtually unique as a stage piece that is both personal and social and wholly a product of our life today." 2 The play tells of the visit of the main character, Blanche, a supposedly typical to Southern Belle, to her long estranged sister Stella, who she finds living in modesty in New Orleans.

Williams brutally rips away the skin of conventionality to reveal the true motivations of the characters, focusing on Blanches apparent fall to madness, and culminating in her eventual rape by her brother-in-law Stanley.

It is important to understand what Williams means when he talks of death to the reporter. For Williams the fact of being dead or the act of death is not important, but it is the pain that precedes it. This has metaphorical significance which resonates throughout the play. Though the characters do not physically die it is in their inevitable downfall that we see the symbolic pain of death. In all the characters it is clear that their unbridled desires, their Id force, lead to significant downfalls. This essay aims to intricately analyse the many ways Williams uses ideas and themes of desire to bring about "death" in A Streetcar Named Desire, in particular focusing...