A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE: How is this concept of “final resting place for the souls of the heroic and the virtuous” appropriate/inappropriate for the events and characters?The setting of A...

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE: How is this concept of “final resting place for the souls of the heroic and the virtuous” appropriate/inappropriate for the events and characters?

The setting of A Streetcar named Desire is in the French Quarter of New Orleans on Elysian Fields Avenue, which is named after Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, France. However, in Roman mythology, the Elysian Fields were the final resting place of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous.  Explain.


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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The concept of the Elysian fields as a final moratorium for the virtuous and the heroic is not proportional to the stories of the the characters of Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire. If anything, the morphology of the word "Elyssian" is more congruent as an alternate of the word "Asylum" which is the final resting place of the character of Blanche Dubois.

The play begins when we find the character of Blanche Dubois, after years of obstacles, standing at the door of her sister's small apartment in New Orleans as her very last physical and emotional refuge.

Prior to her entrance, Blanche had lived a life that very few women would be able to tolerate, never-mind enjoy. Blanche is a destitute. She loses her family heritage and both her parents. She endures alone the humiliation of a lower type of life, so she chooses to basically prostitute herself to richer men to obtain goods from them. All fails when Blanche, in her debauched style, chooses to have intercourse with a student, ending her chances for any professional opportunities.

As a widow of a man who commits suicide after being found out to be gay, Blanche's emotions are already saturated to the maximum. The only choice for her, at this point, is to swallow her pride and seek refuge at her sister's home, which she shares with an abusive husband.

Once there, Blanche cannot connect with her sister's sense of normalcy, nor can she put up with Stanley's abusive and misogynistic ways. In an attempt to save face while she is there, however, Blanche behaves like an over-exagerated proper lady for the sake of having one last shot at marrying a good man that does not know her life story. When she is unmasked by Stanley, and raped by him, her own sister chooses to deny the rape and agrees to send Blanch to an asylum. However, at this point, Blanche has no sense of herself. She has finally lost her last straw.

This is the reason why the Elysian fields of the victorious do not seem applicable to this play, nor with the end of Blanche. In this case, the words "Elysian" and "Asylum" are make a better semantic field than the Elysian fields of the virtuous and the heroic.

It is arguable that Blanche, at some point in her life, isquite virtuous and heroic by withstanding a dysfunctional marriage, her husband's suicide, and the eventual loss of her heritage. However, Blanche never learns that her charm and strength should have been put to a much better use than to sell herself for the highest bidder. Therefore, instead of an Elysian fields, Blanche ironically ends her life in an asylum for the lunatic.


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