How do the theme and motifs of A Streetcar Named Desire compare to real life?Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Merely from watching the daily news, one realizes that in A Streetcar Named Desire, the themes of class conflict, violence and cruelty, and mental instability are indeed relevant to real life. Blanche, an aging Southern Belle conflicts with Stanley Kowalski sincetheir values differ, their tastes differ, and their behavior differs. But, Stanley pulls her sister Stella "down off those columns" of Belle Reve, their family plantation and she experiences treatment different from what she has grown up with. With the aftermath of the Civil War and the modern industrial North taking dominance in the country's economy, the action of the class conflicts in Tennessee Williams's play are very true to life within the setting of the play.

Similarly,Williams's theme of how a cycle of violence is hard to break is certainly realistic. Blanche effects Mitch's ire as he learns of her past trysts and flirtations. Time and time again women return to an abusive husband, just as Stella does. In addition, the theme of mental instability is also one with which the author himself became anxious in his own life. Since his sister Rose had a lobotomy, Williams was concerned about his own mental balance, and care for people in the mid 1940s was not what it is today. Blanche's vulnerability, her having to "depend upon the kindness of strangers," and being, like many, psychologically dead, causes Blanche to choose to exist in semi-darkness, preferring not to face reality: "The dark is comforting to me." Like so many in reality, Blanche lives in illusions, like so many, Stella lives in violence, like so many Stanley clashes with others from differing socio-economic classes.

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