What does Williams's depiction of Blanche and Stanley's lives say about desire?

Essay by funkiee2000High School, 12th grade September 2004

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What does Williams's depiction of Blanche and Stanley's lives say about desire?

As its title indicates, A Streetcar Named Desire explores the destinations to which desire leads. In following their respective desires, Blanche and Stanley end up in very different places. Blanche is the victim of a culture that has unhealthily repressed its connection to primal and natural urges. Blanche's culture also forbids love to cross boundaries of class, race, and "normal" gender relationships. This means that, for Blanche, all but a narrow realm of sex is illicit, demonized, and taboo. The suppressed desire of Blanche and her forebears erupted from time to time in "epic fornications." Blanche's ancestors paid for their lust with their wealth, and Blanche pays with her sanity.

The interclass bond between Stanley and Stella, on the other hand, is animal and spiritual rather than intellectual or practical. Blanche cannot understand why her sister would enter into such a rough-and-tumble union, because Blanche has never reconciled her genteel identity with her own profound desire.

The divide between her aristocratic sense of self and the "animal" urges that have at times controlled her is too great. Instead, Blanche invents a reality that conveniently ignores her own sexuality, her own vitality. She knows that a streetcar named Desire brought her to her present predicament, but intellectually she separates that desire from herself.

Williams advocates a moderate approach to the indulgence of desires. Desire is a fact of life and a driving force in the lives of Williams's characters. Though Stanley, a rapist and wife beater, is no one's prototype for the perfect man, Blanche's denial of her desire, which leads her to hit on young boys, is equally dangerous.

2. The plot of A Streetcar Named Desire is driven by the dueling personalities of Blanche and Stanley. What...