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In "A Streetcar Named Desire," where do you consider Tennessee Williams' final view...

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ashleyinc08 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 6, 2013 at 6:32 PM via web

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In "A Streetcar Named Desire," where do you consider Tennessee Williams' final view toward illusion and reality to lie? Does he align himself with Stanley's reality and brutal honesty, or with Blanche's illusion and pretense?

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 6, 2013 at 7:20 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that Blanche is presented as a threat from the beginning. Stanley and Stella have a happy life together and she is expecting a baby. When Blanche moves into their small apartment she creates conflict between herself and Stanley, between Stanley and Stella, and between Stanley and his friend Harold Mitchell. She is the protagonist and Stanley is the antagonist. She is threatening him and his family, while he is defending himself and his domain.

The beauty of this play is that we cannot dislike Blanche. We feel sorry for her because she is broke, because she is getting old, because she is helpless and desperate, and because she too is fighting for her life. The protagonist and antagonist are very different kinds of people in most ways, but they are pretty evenly matched as opponents. Blanche doesn't mind provoking Stanley's worst macho behavior because it only makes him look bad in Stella's eyes. We feel satisfied when Stanley defeats Blanche, but at the same time we feel pity for her. She seems to be truly tragic.

Tennessee Williams was notoriously effeminate, but he undoubtedly admired masculine, domineering "alpha males" like Stanley Kowalski. He appears to align himself with Stanley's "reality and brutal honesty" while deploring and mourning the destruction of the culture and refinement of the Old South as represented by Blanche du Bois.

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