How can the metaphors help in "A Streetcar Named Desire" in order to understand Blanche's actions and feelings? Can they help at all? (lights,music)

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parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Remember that a play is really meant to be seen and heard rather than read.  The stage directions set the mood for each scene, as in the opening one at Stanley and Stella's ghetto apartment. In a scene bathed in both light and shadow, you can literally hear jazz in the streets and smell bananas frying. There is an element of quaint comfort and exotism despite poverty.

Light is an important leit motif throughout the play, and even Stella's and Blanche's names are significant. (Stella means 'star' and Blanche, 'white.') Stella, who was close to sister when they were young, becomes estranged from Blanche in the end (out of reach, as a star), believing Stanley's version of events while she was at hospital rather than her sister's. This leads to Blanche's final downfall. Blanche, who would like be considered a proper lady, is 'diritied up,' first when her would-be beau Mitch strips the paper off the light bulb of her paper lantern, and later more literally when her brother-in-law Stanley rapes her.

The final scene is a stark one. Light at the end of the play represents the harsh, brutal and uncompromising side of life rather than hope or purity. It forebodes the clinical light of the mental hospital.

In the backdrop, however, the streetcar named "Desire" can be heard dingling down the street. As Stanley puts his hand inside Stella's blouse, we can only hope than life will get back to 'normal' at the Kowalski household.

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A Streetcar Named Desire

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