A Streetcar Named Desire Questions and Answers
by Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire book cover
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How can the play be considered a tragedy?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Aside from the unity of place A Streetcar Named Desire doesn't show too much fidelity to the Aristotelian theory of drama. But in the character of Blanche Dubois there can be no doubt that we are presented with a tragic heroine, brought low by a fatal flaw, and invoking pity and fear in the audience along the way. All the traditional elements of the tragic heroine are present in Blanche. First of all, she comes from a respectable family, one that enjoyed wealth and status. Yet, look at her now; and see how far she's fallen in the world. In Greek drama a tragic hero or heroine comes to grief through something they've done; they are not simply the plaything of fate. And in Blanche's case it's her self-absorption, her yearning need to be wanted and loved that leads to her sad demise.

Blanche is also sorely deluded. She thinks that purity of heart and inner refinement will be enough to wash away the taint of sin she's acquired from her numerous illicit liaisons. Yet try as she might, Blanche...

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kostaglatov | Student

A Street Car Named Desire , does not approach tragedy in the dramatic sense. It contains none of the elements necessary to tragedy. Blanche arrives a sick woman and exits the same way.  There is no element of discovery or self realization in any of the main characters, there is no tragic flaw which precipitates the fall of the protagonist and there is no reversal. That Stanley may now have a somewhat different relationship with his wife, hardly constitutes tragedy. Streetcar is a wonderful play, and Blanche a somewhat sympathetic character,  but that alone does not a tragedy make.