If I want to discuss Blanche's "desire" and the other characters' desires in A Streetcar Named Desire, what can I talk about?For example, one of Blanche's desire is sexual as she is attracted...

If I want to discuss Blanche's "desire" and the other characters' desires in A Streetcar Named Desire, what can I talk about?

For example, one of Blanche's desire is sexual as she is attracted to Stanley when she sees him first time.

What other desire does Blanche have which contributes to  her inevitable tragedy? 

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Scene 4 of A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella tells her sister of her strong desires for Stanley, her husband.  Stella then asks her sister if she has not ridden on a streetcar of the name of Desire.  Blanche replies, "It brought me here--Where I'm not wanted and where I'm ashamed to be." Blanche, whose very name means white, the symbol of purity, constantly takes baths as if to wash away her past sins and shame, yet she desires to return to her past by recreating it in New Orleans through carefully woven tales of Belle Reve and her past lovers.  She creates the illusion of being younger by avoiding bright light with paper shades on the lamps in the apartment and going out only in the evening. And, she wants to be desirous to others, "Oh, in my youth, I excited some admiration," she says to Stanley in Scene Two. 

In Scene Five her sudden desire to be with the young man exemplifies further her attempts to recapture youth and a happiness that now eludes her.  This desire for the dreams of her youth and its illusion of happiness--"Belle Reve means beautiful dream"--leads, of course, to Blanche's tragedy of illusions.  For, she gradually loses touch with reality, sinking further and further into her delusional character that has "always been dependent upon the kindness of strangers."

On the other hand, as a foil character to Blanche, Stella's desires are practical.  She clearly loves Stanley and chooses to go along with the decision to have Blanche committed because she wishes to continue to live with her less than perfect husband for her own sake and for the sake of her child.  Practical minded, Stella rejects the glamorous life Blanche has desired for the reality of her flawed life with Stanley.  She chooses instead the

things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark--that sort of make everything else seem--unimportant.

reidalot eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Desire is a constant motif throughout this play, and it is Blanche's destructive desires which become her ultimate downfall.

At the onset of Streetcar, Blanche is told to get on the streetcar named Desire and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and get off at Elysian Fields (scene 1). Williams begins the play intertwining desire and death. Blanche begins with desire, changes to death, and ends up in Elysian Fields (a mythical place of the afterlife). This opening scene foreshadows the end of the play where she is defeated and sent off to a mental asylum.

What is her desire? First of all, she desires intimacy with a man. She mistakenly confuses this intimacy for sex which leads to the loss of her job and promiscuous behavior. Secondly, she desires magic, an unrealistic desire for an adult as the desire to believe in magic takes away personal responsibility (scene 9). Lastly, Blanche desires youth. Again, just as her desire for magic, the wish to stay young is unrealistic. This desire illustrates her abhorrence of light because she can't "stand a naked light bulb" (scene 3). Bright light reveals Blanche's age.

The theme of Blanche's desire and its ramifications can be traced throughout the entire play.


neeloid | Student

Sexual desire

Desire to advance in life: both in the case of Blanche to get away from her sordid past by marrying Mitch and Stanley's to become someone in life.

Desire as the opposite of death and which keeps one alive

Desire to change the past

Desire which leads to Elysian Fields (heaven)

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A Streetcar Named Desire

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