A Streetcar Named Desire: Thematic Analysis

(Time/Adaptation)






ENG 4AO

June 15, 1999

Mr. Beckett



The theme of time/adaptation is used in Tennessee Williams? play A

Streetcar Named Desire. This theme is used to describe the plight of the lead

character, Blanche Dubois. Blanche clings to her past as a the only source of

real happiness in her life. She refuses to accept that things have changed,

and she is not the woman she was ten years ago. Blanche looks down at her

sister for accepting a life that is relatively obscure when compared to the

posh surroundings they were raised in. Blanche harbors the delusion that she

will be rescued by a man who will carry her away from her all of her

problems. It is this stubborn refusal to adapt to a new life that causes

Blanche?s descent into madness.



Blanche clings to her past as a the only source of real happiness in

her life. She refuses to accept that things have changed, and she is not the

woman she was ten years ago. One thing that Blanche will forever dwell upon

is her looks. She cannot accept that she is no longer young and beautiful,

yet she insists on convincing everyone to the contrary. "You know that I

haven?t put on one ounce in ten years, Stella? (Pg. 22)" Perhaps it is true

that Blanche has not gained any weight, but the fact that she feels the need

to brag about it illustrates her own insecurities. Blanche is very insecure

about her aging looks, so much so that she feels the need to deceive Mitch, a

man she wants to marry. "What it means is I?ve never had a real good look at

you, Blanche. (pg. 116)" Blanche is obsessed with making people see her as

the girl she was ten years ago, rather than the aging woman she is today. In

her own mind, Blanche has not changed in the past ten years. This shows her

refusal to adapt to the present, which is a contributing factor in her

inevitable downfall.



Blanche looks down at her sister for accepting a life that is relatively

obscure when compared to the posh surroundings they were raised in. This is

evident from the time Blanche first arrives at Elysian Fields. "They mustn?t

have?understood?what number I wanted. (pg. 15)" Blanche is in utter disbelief

that her sister, whom she still regards as a member of high-society, could

reside in a working-class neighborhood. She goes so far as to openly pity her

sister for her low-class lifestyle. "Why, that you had to live in these

conditions! (pg. 20)" Blanche is insulting Stella?s choice of accepting a

more common lifestyle. The fact that Blanche looks down at her sister?s

low-class lifestyle shows that she still regards herself as a high-class

individual. Therefore, Blanche is living in a world of fantasy where she has

convinced herself that she is the same woman she was when her family was

still wealthy and powerful.



Blanche harbors the delusion that she will be rescued by a man who

will carry her away from all of her problems. She deceives Mitch because she

wants to ensure a perfect romance; one free of imperfections such as her

face. She confesses to Mitch that she lives in a world of romantic fantasy.

"I don?t want realism, I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to

people. I misrepresent things to them. I don?t tell the truth, I tell what

ought to be the truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!

--Don?t turn the light on! (pg. 117)" This quote shows that Blanche has begun

to lose her mind. She sums up her state of metal-well being by admitting to

telling "what ought to be the truth". Blanche also appears frantic when Mitch

tries to turn on the light, indicating that she is still very much

self-conscious about her looks. When things have fallen apart with Mitch,

Blanche resorts to making up an elaborate fantasy to console her. "I received

a telegram from an old admirer of mine. (pg. 123)" This is her last attempt

to find some sort of happiness before she is committed to the asylum.



It is this stubborn refusal to adapt to a new life that causes

Blanche?s descent into madness. She insists on deceiving everyone?herself

included?into thinking