A Streetcar Named Desire

Blanche's Character in A Streetcar Named Desire College

In Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire, the nature of theatricality, “magic,” and “realism,” all stem from the tragic character, Blanche DuBois. Blanche is both a theatricalizing and self-theatricalizing woman. She lies to herself as well as to others in order to recreate the world as it should be—in line with her high-minded sensibilities. To that extent, much of her creations arise from a longing for the past, nostalgia for her lost love, her dignity, and her purpose in life. She is haunted by the ghosts of what she has lost, and the genteel society of her Belle Reve, her own beautiful dream. Blanche arrives at Stella’s doorstep with, essentially, a trunk full of costumes from her past. She is intensely self-conscious and a performer in the utmost sense. We meet Blanche at a point in her life where few, if any, of her actions do not seem contrived or performed to some extent.

In Scene 3 of Act I, she produces a small performance for her suitor, Mitch, in her efforts to seduce him. She turns on the radio for soundtrack, directs Mitch to “…turn on the light above now!” and exclaims, “Oh, look! We’ve made enchantment (39)!” as she dances away as the self-cast star of the impromptu performance. Stella applauds from...

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