How is deception presented in A Streetcar Named Desire?

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Blanche DuBois is an iconic character because she has created such an engrossing deception about herself, her past, and her present and because of her struggle to continue to maintain this deception throughout the play. She deceives Mitch, her suitor, about her age, her background, and her basic suitability as...

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Blanche DuBois is an iconic character because she has created such an engrossing deception about herself, her past, and her present and because of her struggle to continue to maintain this deception throughout the play. She deceives Mitch, her suitor, about her age, her background, and her basic suitability as a future wife for him—but she does this out of desperation, as there are few avenues for survival open to her.

Stella, her sister, is also guilty of self-deception in a number of ways. Raised in the same class as Blanche, she continues to tell herself that her husband's brutish ways don't matter, when they do, and in the end she betrays her sister by believing Stanley over Blanche.

Stanley's self-deception is, in a way, a mirror of Stella's. He pretends that Blanche's characterizations of him don't matter, but they rankle him badly, and lead to his attack on her.

All three of the major characters are revealed to have been surviving, to an extent, on lies, and although it's Blanche whose world completely crumbles at the end of the play, we are left to wonder just how long Stella and Stanley's marriage will survive after what they have just lived through.

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Williams shows deception to be a uniquely human trait in the drama, one that is used to keep consciousness sustaining and something that is used to deceive others and oneself.  Blanche is one of the strongest examples of this element of self- deception.  She is incapable of seeing herself in the most honest of lights.  Blanche has difficulty confronting a pain- ridden past, and so deception is employed to keep such a reality at bay.  It is also this deception, to a great extent, that feeds the antagonism between she and Stanley, someone that she sees as a fundamental threat to the idea of her self- deception.  Blanche comes to need this self- deception in an intense manner and Stanley's desire to take it from her shows one of the first examples of his savagery and her ultimate defenseless states.  For the most part, Stanley is fairly open and direct about who he is and in what he believes, as there is little deception on this point.  Yet, he is incapable of being honest in terms of what he did to Blanche.  He uses deception to conceal the fact that he raped his wife's sister.  Finally, I think that Stella engages in self- deception to a great extent in order to survive with her husband and in the attempt to maintain control of her world when being pulled between Stanley and Stella. She ends up deceiving herself about the nature of her husband, if nothing else for her own welfare and for the welfare of her child.  The "self- control" for which Stella is praised by Blanche might actually be code for self- deception, the ability to control one's own notion of deceiving self is something that Blanche completely lacked.  In this, Williams shows deception of self and of others as an intrinsic part of what it means to be human.

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