"Some plays excite our emotions; others make us think; some do both." In light of this statement, compare the plays A Streetcar Named Desire and Waiting for Godot.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Beckett's existential play Waiting for Godot is certainly no drama with the emotional intensity of Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire, the two plays do share some existential motifs which give cause to much consideration on the part of audiences. About the characters of Waiting for Godot, one critic has observed that 

[T]he fact that none of the characters retain a clear mental history means that they are constantly struggling to prove their existences.

ESTRAGON: We came here yesterday.
VLADIMIR:  Ah no, there you're mistaken.
ESTRAGONWhat did we do yesterday?
VLADIMIR:  What did we do yesterday?
VLADIMIR:  Why...(Angrily.) Nothing is certain when you're about.
ESTRAGON: In my opinion we were here. 

When Blanche of A Streetcar Named Desire arrives in New Orleans, she shares with Beckett's characters this disassociation with place:

EUNICE: What's the matter honey, are you lost?
BLANCHE: They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer                   to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at--Elysian                   Fields!
EUNICE:   This here is Elysian Fields.
BLANCHE: They mustn't have--understood--what number I wanted.
EUNICE:    What number you looking for?
BLANCHE:  Six thirty-two.
EUNICE:    You don't have to look no further.

Later, Blanche describes her life as one on which she has ridden "that streetcar named Desire" and she does, sadly, go to a Elysian Fields, the place where the soul journeys back to life, the asylum.

Also in similarity with Vladimir and Estragon, Blanche shares their lack of resolution and dependency upon others. "I have always been dependent upon the kindness of strangers," Blanche repeatedly says throughout the drama. Likewise, Vladimir and Estragon fall into a pattern of repeating events and simply end "waiting for Godot." They, too are unable to design their own fates, and the audience ponders the existential aloneness of all men who must create their own existence in his struggle against their own individual natures.

Certainly, too, this character of Blanche duBois shares with Beckett's Vladimir and Estragon's a sense of hopelessness. For, she reflects repeatedly upon the tragic love she had for the young man that was her husband after having talked with the young man who has come by "collecting for The Evening Star newspaper while she has been alone in the apartment waiting for Mitch, When Mitch does come in Scene Six, Blanche alludes to the boy with whom she fell in love when she was "a very young girl," and then she found him with "an older man who had been his friend for years...." 

MITCH: You need somebody. And I need somebody, too. Could it be--you and               me, Blanche?

Unfortunately, though, Blanche does not unite with Mitch; instead, she finds herself bereft of any hope of marrying Mitch, returning again to her habit of repeating that she has been dependent upon others. But, like the lost property of Belle Reve, all is but a dream and she is unable to determine her own fate, just as Beckett's characters are likewise unable. Instead, Blanche finds herself alone in the apartment with the animalistic Stanley. Her confrontation with Stanley is charged with intense emotion as he brutalizes her, taking from Blanche what little confidence she has had in herself after her rejection by Mitch. In a sense, then, Stanley contributes to Blanche's delusions and hopelessness, merging emotion with thought.

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A Streetcar Named Desire

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