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A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

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What is the moral of A Streetcar Named Desire?

One moral lesson in A Streetcar Named Desire is that people often deserve empathy, even when they fail to meet social expectations.

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One of the moral lessons in A Streetcar Named Desire is that people who live outside the boundaries of society's expectations are often navigating traumatic life experiences and deserve empathy.

On the surface, Blanche DuBois is a flashy, sex-driven woman whose past catches up with her again and again. She has come to her sister's house, at least in part, to find a new beginning. Blanche's past includes a former husband who committed suicide after Blanche discovered that he was having an affair with another man. Again, the setting intensifies the conflict of her failed marriage, and Blanche therefore desperately seeks love and acceptance at every turn.

Blanche can no longer depend on her physical attractiveness to garner attention, so she turns to cheap and rather gaudy clothing to heighten her allure. Unable to summon the strength to live as an independent woman, Blanche lies and turns to alcohol as a means of coping. She longs for a life of "magic" that always seems to elude her "empty heart."

It would be easy to judge Blanche for her shortcomings, but it is also important to remember that she has endured one tragedy after another and has no real hope left. Just when it seems that Blanche couldn't fall any further, she is raped by her brother-in-law, and her own sister refuses to believe that the crime happened. Blanche is thus committed to an institution, which represents one final blow to any hope of finding the sense of belonging she has been searching for. Blanche certainly makes poor choices which lead to her tragic ending, but she is also unable to reconcile her situation with a society that is often willing to use her for its own purposes. For this reason, her character is a reminder that people are often deserving of some empathy, even when they fail to adhere to societal expectations.

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