A Streetcar Named Desire

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2001

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In A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams focuses on Blanche's deception, paradoxically also identifying her as the most honest character in the play. He thus asks his audience to question whether true honesty is accepting harsh reality or recognizing the human need for magic, idealism, and lies to cope with life.

Fantasy is a product of the imagination that one creates to escape the harsh realities of life. Blanche realizes her need to live in a made-up world. Ever since her husband's death, which she feels is her fault, she has never truly accepted the truths in her life. Since then, the light in her life has been switched off. The light that turns off is a symbol of Blanche's fantasyland. Ever since that incident, she has prevented herself from being exposed to light, both physically and emotionally, as she hides behind the shadow of a "˜candle's' faint shimmer.

She continually longs to be the young girl who had fallen in love with her husband, the young girl who did not know of her loved one's homosexuality, and the young girl who was in love and care-free. That, in itself, is already a dream world. Yet, Blanche goes beyond dreaming. She continues to dress in clothes that make her seem "˜as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party' , keep her figure trim and slender, and wear enough make-up to hide the creases on her face that reveal her true age. Blanche even goes to the extent of staying away from sunlight and keeping the house light dim with the use of a Chinese lantern over the bulb, for she knows that light is the first and foremost giveaway to one's actual identity. Making herself feel and look young to herself and to others is...