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How can the reader explain three ways that the characters attempt to escape reality...

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jesicatran | Student, Grade 9 | Honors

Posted August 11, 2012 at 1:31 PM via web

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How can the reader explain three ways that the characters attempt to escape reality in A Streetcar Named Desire?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 11, 2012 at 6:24 PM (Answer #1)

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Escapism as a means of coping with the disappointments or hardships of reality has long been the occupation of many a person throughout all time.  Certainly, the title of Williams's play indicates the yearnings of the characters.

Blanche

Blanche DuBois, who lives in a world of illusion, evokes the metaphor of the streets of New Orleans and that "rattle-trap streetcar":

"They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at--Elysian Fields."

Blanche stops at the street with the mythological name from Elysium of Virgil's Aeneid, a temporary place for the souls' journey back to life. For Blanche, New Orleans and her sister's home is an escape from the memory of loss, loss of the family estate of Belle Reve and the loss of her teaching position because of her affair with a seventeen-year-old. 

Later, when Mitch rips off the paper lantern in order to get a closer look at Blanche, she tells him, 

 

"I don’t want realism…I’ll tell you what I want. Magic! Yes, yes, magic! I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth. I tell what ought to be truth."

With covered lights and a tale that differs from reality, Blanche seeks to escape in New Orleans.

Stella

Having married Stanley Kowalski, an earthy, brawling, virile man, Stella is "pulled down off them columns" as Stanley says and escapes from her genteel past into one that is more primal and real. When she describes their marriage night to her sister, Blanche is appalled that Stanley went around smashing the light bulbs with the heel of Stella's slipper; however Stella tells her, "I was--sort of--thrilled by it." Life with Stanley is sexually exciting for Stella, an escape from the mundane.

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