What different kinds of notions of “desire” are at issue in A Streetcar Named Desire?Consider such references as when Blanche rebukes Stella for “talking about . . . brutal...

What different kinds of notions of “desire” are at issue in A Streetcar Named Desire?

Consider such references as when Blanche rebukes Stella for “talking about . . . brutal desire—just—Desire!” (scene 4) or when Blanche tells Mitch that desire is “the opposite” of death (scene 9).

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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There are many different notions of desire as seen in Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire. Desire can come in many forms. Depending upon the desire, they can be either beautiful of monstrous. As for Blanche's desires in the play, she has many. Blanche has both physical and mental desires.

Blanche, given her sordid past, has become a slave to her physical desires. She, when around men, is flirtatious and seductive. For many years, Blanche depended upon her ability to sexually please men in order to survive. She, jaded by years of prostitution, is still a slave to her physical desires.

Blanche, trying to explain this ideology to Stella, has a very different notion of desire than her sister. Blanche's desires have always been purely physical.  When it comes to love, Blanche has no idea about it. Stella,on the other hand, knows what love is. Her desires are very different based upon the mental need for Stanley and not the physical ones.

Outside of her physical desires, Blanche has a desire to feel young. This parallels her statement to Mitch when stating that desire is simply the opposite of death. For Blanche, she has become so accustomed to feeling desire that she regards it in the same way one would regard their heart--it gives them life. Therefore, Blanche is fearful that if she loses her desire (for anything) that her life will end. This is supported by her need to remain, or be regarded as, young.

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