Tennessee Williams Essay Research Paper Adcock 1Tennessee

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Tennessee Williams Essay, Research Paper Adcock 1 Tennessee Williams, an American playwright, has been known as the most prominent American southern dramatist. He won his first Pulitzer Prize with Streetcar Named Desire. In this play, Williams shows the need for belief in human value against the natural realistic world. He uses symbols to develop the characters and theme of illusion verses reality within Streetcar Named Desire. The two main characters are Blanche DuBois, an aristocrat southern belle, and Stanley Kowalski the “gaudy seed-bearer.” Blanche lives in the superficial world she has made for herself while Stanley lives in the harsh realistic world. The confrontation between Blanche and Stanley is shown throughout the play and is so severe that one must be

destroyed. Williams uses specific names to describe his characters. The name Blanche comes from a French word meaning white and her last name Dubois meaning woods. This corresponds with Blanches character because she uses the French language to charm Mitch and to seem more intelligent. White being the color of purity suggests that she is pure and innocent although it will soon be shown that this is an illusion that she has engrossed in. She has come from Belle Reve, also of French descent meaning a beautiful dream, which is the plantation where she and Stella grew up. She has lost the plantation and in a since she has lost the dream she once had. The arrival at Stella’s is her last hope to recapture this dream. She is described as wearing white and having a moth like

appearance. In literature a moth represents soul. So it is possible to see her entire voyage as the journey of her soul. She describes her voyage: “They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at – Elysian fields Adcock 2 (Williams 15). If one investigates Blanches past one can truly understand what this quotation symbolizes. Blanche left her home to join her sister, because her life was a miserable wreck in her former place of residence. She admits, at one point in the story, that “after the death of Allen (her husband) intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with”(Williams 118). She had sexual relations with anyone who would agree to it. This is the first step in

her voyage – “Desire.” She said that she was forced into this situation because death was immanent and “The opposite (of death) is desire”(Williams 120). She escaped death in her use of desire. However, she could not escape “death “ for long. She was a teacher at a high school, and at one point she had intimacies with a seventeen-year-old student. The issue was not concealed for long. The revilement of this caused her to be fired and destroyed her image. She was basically banned from Laurel and sent on her next journey – “Cemeteries.” Her final destination was Elysian Fields. Elysian Fields are the mythical resting-places of the gods. This is the place of the living dead. Blanche came to Elysian Fields to forget her horrible past, searching in her soul to have

a fresh start in life. Blanche has essentially removed herself from the reality of her life. She has made up this illusionary world that she now lives in. The death of her husband has haunted her throughout her life and the loss of Belle Reve was in a sense a loss of her social status. Since her arrival in Elysian Fields she has buried her past by her illusion of what should be. She has made up a good portion of her past for the majority of the play. She doesn’t neglect telling her past but she only offers part of her history in fear that this is her last hope of survival. Her encounters with Mitch give her hope and she uses her sense of Adcock 3 innocence to hold on to him. Stanley, the investigative realist, crushes her hope by revealing, to Mitch, the evidence he has found