A Streetcar Named Desire



In Tennessee Williamísí play A Streetcar Named Desire, a major theme that is present is reality versus illusion. In the play, Williams clearly tends to favor the real world of Stanley and Stella Kowalski, than the imaginary world of the unfortunate Blanche DuBois. He demonstrates that when the two worlds collide, reality will smash the artificial world of illusion. The first evidence that proves Williams alliance with reality, is Blancheís life before New Orleans, in Laurel. Blanche had fell in love and married a boy whom she thought of as perfect in every way. Unfortunately for her he is a homosexual. This invasion of reality breaks up her dream image of her husband, and she tells him how he disgusts her. He then commits suicide, and Blanche forever blames herself. These unpleasant realities that have invaded her life, make her find refuge in promiscuous relationships with all kinds of men. She still believes that she is a refined and respectable woman, but in reality she is nothing but a tramp whom is forced to leave Laurel. Another instance where the two worlds conflict is the night of the poker game. When Stanley gets drunk and beats Stella, Blanche is extremely upset and disgusted. His actions convince her that she must leave with Stella. She concocts a ridiculous plan to run away with Shep Huntleigh, an acquaintance she had seen long ago. Stella being more realistic, knows that this plan has no merit. She knows that Stanley is crude and violent at times but she knows how to cope. Besides, she is about to have a baby and cannot raise a child without a father. Stella decides to stay with Stanley, and seems to forget about the event as if it never happened. Stella has chosen Stanley over Blanche, and in the process choosing reality over illusion. The two defining incidents in the play clearly show that Tennessee Williams favors the world of reality. The moments before Stanley rapes Blanche is the first time where Blanche gets the brutal reality to her face. Blanche dwells in illusion. Fantasy is her primary means of self-defense. Her deceits do not carry any trace of harm but rather, they come from her weakness and inability to confront the truth head-on. She tells things not as they are, but as they ought to be. For her, fantasy has a freeing magic that protects her from the tragedies she has had to endure. Unfortunately, this defense is frail and will be shattered by Stanley. In the end, Stanley and Stella will also resort to a kind of illusion: Stella will force herself to believe that Blanche\'s accusations against Stanley are false. Stanley bashes every illusion that Blanche had believed.


When Blanche says that Shep Huntleigh had contacted her, Stanley immediately recognizes it as a lie, he states ď There isnít a god dam thing but imagination! and lies and conceit and tricks!Ē. Stanley then rapes Blanche, shattering her world forever. Weeks after the episode, Blanche could not convince anybody that she was raped, because nobody could believe her, for she was always basing things around imagination. The world of reality defeats Blanche when she is hauled off to a mental institution.


The final incident that solidifies Williamsí alliance with reality, is the moving scene where Stella remains with Stanley after her only sister is removed from the house. Stella could not let herself believe that Stanley had raped Blanche. Stanley comforts Stella, implying that things will go back to the way they were. In a dream world, Stella would have made a dramatic exit from Stanley, however in a real world people do things that they have to do, rather than what they want to do. Stella must remain with Stanley.


Tennessee Williams has shown the victory of reality over illusion. In A Streetcar Named Desire , Tennessee Williams has demonstrated that when the worlds of reality and imagination collide realism will defeat and shatter the dream world that a person has built for himself. He has clearly allied himself with the forces of reality rather than illusion.