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"A Streetcar Named Desire" By Tennessee Williams. A Reaction, Assessment Of Literary Value, Biography Of The Author, And Literary Critism

3102 words - 13 pages

Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire contains more within it's characters, situations, and story than appears on its surface. As in many of Williams's plays, there is much use of symbolism and interesting characters in order to draw in and involve the audience. The plot of A Streetcar Named Desire alone does not captivate the audience. It is Williams's brilliant and intriguing characters that make the reader truly understand the play's meaning. He also presents a continuous flow of raw, realistic moods and events in the play which keeps the reader fascinated in the realistic fantasy Williams has created in A Streetcar Named Desire. The symbolism, characters, mood, and events of ...view middle of the document...

One reason for this is that she has an absolutely brilliant way of making reality seem like fantasy, and making fantasy seem like reality. This element of Blanche's personality is what makes her character interest the audience and contribute to the excellence of the work. Returning to the beginning of the play, Blanche, shocked with the dirtiness and gloominess of Stella and Stanley's home in New Orleans, looks out the window and says 'Out there I suppose is the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir!', to which Stella replies 'No honey, those are the L and N tracks.' Blanche would assume that something so common and simple as noisy, dark railroad tracks might as well be 'ghoul-haunted woodlands.' Further evidence of Blanche's warped view of reality and fantasy is shown throughout the entire play. She seems to hint to Stella and Stanley, and therefore the audience, that she is actually much more than she seems. In scene seven, Blanche soaks in a tub, singing:'Say, it's only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea-But it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me!It's a Barnum and Bailey world, Just as phony as it can be-But it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me!'As she sings this song, telling the story of her tendency to believe a more pleasant, warped view of reality over the actual reality, Stanley is telling Stella the horrifying truth about Blanche's scandalous past. The reader is as drawn into Blanche's illusion as much as Stella is, and just as Stella refuses to believe Stanley's harsh words, the audience also does not want to accept that the view they have had of Blanche for a good deal of the play is nothing more than a story made up to hide her unpleasant history. The clearest example of this is also one of the most intense and involving scenes of the entire play. In scene nine, Blanche is confronted by Mitch, who has learned the truth about her past. Mitch tells Blanche that he has never seen her in the light. He tears Blanche's paper lantern off of the plain, bright light bulb, and tries to see her as she really is, and not in a view warped by Blanche's efforts to make herself seem more innocent, young, and beautiful than she is. Blanche responds to this by saying 'I don't want realism. I want magic!...I try to give that to people. I misinterpret things to them. I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth...Don't turn the light on!' This intense, frightening scene reveals to the audience the way Blanche views the world. Tennessee Williams's use of this kind of dual view of the world to develop Blanche's character is a perfect example of the way A Streetcar Named Desire makes the audience react to the characters in the play. It is this reaction between the audience and the brilliant characters in the play that makes the play such a valuable literary work.The literary value of A Streetcar Named Desire is in Williams's ability to create a fantasy world which draws the reader into it as if it was their own reality. In...

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