In "A Streetcar Named Desire," what does the streetcar named Desire symbolize?
In Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche's end is foreshadowed by her choice of locomotion into New Orleans. Upon arriving in the city, Blanche first gets onto a streetcar named Desire. Soon after, she must transfer to another streetcar. This transfer to Cemeteries sets into motion her inevitable end.
Her initial step onto Desire symbolizes her innate need to be desired. Over her life, Blanche has used her desire to fuel her insatiable need to be taken care of. Through becoming a prostitute, Blanche is able to survive. Her customers have allowed her to satisfy her need to be desired and her sexual nature.
The theme of desire resonates throughout the play. Not only does Blanche ride Desire to Elysian Fields, she and Stella have a very important conversation about desire itself.
"What you are talking about is brutal desire—just Desire!—the name of that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another."
''Haven't you ever ridden on that street-car?''
"It brought me here—Where I'm not wanted and where I'm ashamed to be."
Here, both Stella and Blanche's desires are made apparent. Unfortunately, Blanche's desires are far more unobtainable than Stella's.
In the end, the streetcar named Desire symbolizes the mode each person chooses in order to gain the things they wish. For some like Stella, desire is able to give them exactly what they need. For others, like Blanche, desire is only a thing which exists as a mask to reality.