A critique of "A Streetcar Named Desire", by Tennesse Williams. Focuses on romantacism, and social expectations at the time.

Essay by montydsw April 2006

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The Downfall of Romanticism as portrayed in Streetcar

A central theme in "A Streetcar Named Desire" is romanticism. Blanche Dubois, a central character in Williams's play represents romanticism and its failures. Williams uses Blanche to convey his underlying theme- romantics are unable to assimilate into society. Blanche's failure in life is multi-cause, however they all relate to her romantic qualities.

Her self-destructive behavior is certainly a primary cause to her failures in life. Her excessive self-indulgence in alcohol and sexual activities are indeed representative of her demise. Blanche is constantly drinking, although she denies she has a problem. She had an affair with a student and is now constantly going after younger men. Although Blanche recognizes that her drinking and sexual promiscuity are bad, she is unable to significantly alter her actions, leading her into an even deeper downward spiral.

Additionally, Blanche's misconceptions of the outside world contribute to her failure.

She, like all other romantics, is trapped in a dream world. Blanche pretends to be someone different than who she is; someone younger, smarter, and more appealing. She has a fantasy that a southern gentleman will be coming to whisk her away and retreat to the privileged high-life of which she is so deserving. Upon encountering failure in the real world, she just retreats into her safe-haven of illusions, free from the pressures of the outside world.

Perhaps Blanche's largest problem is overcoming her cognitive dissonance from her body. Blanche is unable to envision her mind and body connected, and subsequently her actions reflect this split. She views sex as a bodily act, as opposed to actual love. For example, she has in the past only had sex with men whom she disliked, and she now has trouble associating the two together. This problem causes her relationship...