Illustration of a man and a woman embracing

A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams
Start Free Trial

How are appearances deceiving in A Streetcar Named Desire?

In A Streetcar Named Desire, appearances are deceiving in Blanche, for what she pretends to be (a well-off schoolteacher on a leave of absence) is not at all what she is. Appearances are also quite different from reality in Stella and Stanley's marriage. By the end of the play, Blanche can no longer tell the difference between appearances and reality.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire , very little is actually what it appears to be on the surface. When Blanche DuBois arrives at her sister's apartment, she comes with plenty of secrets that are only gradually revealed. Blanche appears to be an upper-class schoolteacher taking a...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire, very little is actually what it appears to be on the surface. When Blanche DuBois arrives at her sister's apartment, she comes with plenty of secrets that are only gradually revealed. Blanche appears to be an upper-class schoolteacher taking a brief leave of absence to calm down her nervous condition. She is rather snobbish, criticizing her sister and brother-in-law's small apartment and comparing it to the family's lost home, Belle Reve, which she claims to have let go after many of their relatives passed on.

Blanche, however, is not at all as she seems. For one thing, she drinks heavily, even though she tries to hide it. For another, she is not just taking a leave of absence from her job; she has been fired for having a sexual relationship with a minor. It turns out that Blanche is penniless. She actually lost Belle Reve because of her debt, and she ended up living in a nasty motel, from which she was evicted because of her promiscuity. Indeed, the Blanche of reality is not the same as the Blanche of appearances.

Another prime example of deceiving appearances occurs in the marriage of Stella and Stanley. On the surface, they seem to be very much in love, but in reality, their relationship is far more about lust. Stella is highly physically attracted to her husband, and their physical relationship is active. Yet their bond doesn't seem to go much deeper than that. In fact, Stanley can turn nasty very quickly and even beats Stella at one point. Stanley also rapes Blanche, although his wife refuses to believe that has happened.

In the end, Blanche goes insane. She can no longer distinguish between appearances and reality. She thinks that she is going off with her millionaire boyfriend, but really, she is going to a mental asylum.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on