A Streetcar Named Desire

The presentation of desire in A Streetcar Named Desire. 12th Grade


In A Streetcar Named Desire, Williams presents desire as an overwhelmingly destructive and negative force. All of the characters grapple with their desires: both Blanche and Mitch desire companionship, Stella desires to upkeep her life with Stanley, and Stanley desires power. Williams himself was intrigued by two streetcars that carried the words ‘Desire’ and ‘Fate’ as their destination, and whilst living in New Orleans in 1946, he mentioned them in an essay, writing ‘Their indistinguishable progress up and down the Royal Street struck me as having symbolic bearing of a broad nature on the life in the Vieux Carre - and everywhere else for that matter.’ Williams explores the idea of sexual desire in Streetcar, and also uses the theme of desire to present the clash of the new and old world orders.

One of the key types of desire that Williams portrays in Streetcar is sexual desire. Much of Blanche’s conception of how she operates in the world relies on her perception of herself as an object of male sexual desire. Her interactions with men always begin with flirtation: after only her first substantial conversation with Stanley, in which Stanley clearly exhibits his disdain for her, Blanche tells Stella ‘Yes - I was flirting with...

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