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What is the significance of the title of A Streetcar Named Desire?

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serrahd | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 21, 2011 at 11:25 PM via web

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What is the significance of the title of A Streetcar Named Desire?

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parkerlee | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted November 19, 2009 at 12:40 AM (Answer #1)

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The streetcar named "Desire" in the play was the one which brought Blanche to the Kowalskis' shabby apartment in New Orleans.  Blanche even makes reference to it upon her arrival (to the neighbour), even before Stella knows her sister is there.

The ambulant streetcar crisscrossing New Orleans represents Blanche's own vagrancy and her inability to settle down. Blanche reproaches Stella for having married beneath herself, but she has been unable to even do as much. Her husband Alan had killed himself after a conjugal dispute. Then as a single schoolteacher, she also lost her job for having made advances on a student. Later she loses the last vestiges of her reputation hanging around a sleazy hotel as an easy "pickup."

Blanche leaves her sister's place as abruptly as she came, only she does not leave alone nor does she take cheap public transportation.  She is escorted to an insane asylum since her stories of Stanley raping her (which are indeed true) are taken as a hysterical fabulation.  Her last statement rings a certain truth, for she can no longer count on friends, not even her sisiter Stella, and must rely on strangers for help. Her puerile whims and unrestrained sexuality (her desires) have led her to to her own ruin, but so has the incomprehension of others.

As far as changing the title, "A Streetcar Named Desire" focuses much more on internal conflict than "A Poker Night."  It is more general in scope and universal in theme; it evokes more pathos and identification with the character as well.

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cetaylorplfd | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 12, 2010 at 3:45 AM (Answer #2)

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The title of the play A Streetcar Named Desire is significant because it relates to the theme of the cycles of violence that is woven through the play.  When Blanche arrives in New Orleans, someone tells her to take the street-car named Desire to get to Stella's house.  This is an actual street in New Orleans that Williams uses in the play for the connotations that it provides.  The actual concept of desire is presented in warped ways throughout the play.  Blanche desires a rich lifestyle, yet she squanders her inheritance.  Stella speaks to Blanche about the sexual desire between her and Stanley that supposedly erases any negative aspects of their relationship.  Blanche and Stella argue about brutal desire, and Stella brings up the street-car.  Blanche tells her that she rode the street-car to get there, to get to a place where she is not wanted.  In trying to satisfy her desire to belong, Blanche ironically ends up coming to a place where the ultimate act of violence, being raped by Stanley, is inflicted upon her.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 1, 2013 at 3:02 PM (Answer #3)

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The title of this play comes from a line that is uttered by Blanche herself in Scene 1 of this play just after she arrives at her sister's home. Note what she says:

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!

It is important to realise that the names of these different locations have immense importance. Desire is precisely what Blanche has followed, and as a result she has experienced a kind of death, indicated in the name of Cemeteries, as she has been branded a social outcast. Now, she has arrived at Elysian Fields, which was the place where Greeks believed they went after death to contemplate their life and face their mistakes. This is precisely what happens to Blanche during the course of this play, as she is not able to run away from her mistakes and the consequences of her actions any further and has to face them. The title of the play is important therefore in indicating the "epic fornications" that Blanche has committed and the way that she allows desire to drive her life.

Sources:

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jessiej10312 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 22, 2011 at 12:37 AM (Answer #4)

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In the literal sense -  The streetcar Blanche takes to the Kowalski's is named "Desire".  If you look at the first scene she's talking about it.  

Metaphorically speaking though - Blanche is brought to the Kowalski's by desire - sexual desire. 

Also, after taking the "Desire" she has to change transportation and that is called "Cemetaries".   It's like  sexual desire leads to death, etc. 

 

 

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leohall82 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 25, 2011 at 5:26 PM (Answer #5)

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To add up with jessie-The streetcar gives the image of a voyage,which is led by desire.. the voyage is mainly linked with the life of Blanche who ironically takes 'desire' and 'cemetreis' to finally reach NewOrleans,where destruction and death await her... and the result of taking 'A streetcar named desire' for her is expulsion from society at large...

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