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A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

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How does loneliness serve as a theme in A Streetcar Named Desire?

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In A Streetcar Named Desire, loneliness is a pervasive theme affecting nearly all characters. Blanche is the epitome of loneliness, unable to find lasting connections due to her past. Stella experiences loneliness when away from Stanley, and Mitch feels isolated after losing a love and being disappointed by Blanche. Symbolism, such as solitary music and the Mexican woman selling flowers, further underscores the theme.

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There's so much loneliness in A Streetcar Named Desire, yet no one ever seems to find a remedy for it. Blanche certainly doesn't. She's the loneliest character in the whole play, not least because she's a fish out of water. Blanche comes from a good family, and despite her shady past still considers herself a fine, upstanding Southern lady. Staying with her sister and Stanley in their cramped apartment represents a bit of a come down for Blanche, and this isolates her further. She tries her level best to be friendly with Stanley, but he sees right through her. In any case, the two are like chalk and cheese; there's no way in a million years they'd ever get on.

But the real tragedy for Blanche is that she 's destined to remain lonely for the rest of her life. She's broken all the rules of so-called decent society, and once you cross that line, there's no way back. Mitch's treatment of Blanche is a brutal reminder of that. Mitch too is incredibly lonely, and for a while it seems that he and Blanche might be able to form some kind of connection. But once Mitch finds out about Blanche's sordid past, then whatever might have existed between them instantly vanishes. In this deeply old-fashioned society, if you're lonely but respectable, then there's always a chance of finding someone. But if you're lonely and disreputable like Blanche, and especially if you happen to be a woman, then loneliness is the punishment that society exacts upon you.

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Loneliness is a dominate theme in the play "A Streetcar Named Desire". Almost all of the characters experience loneliness in some fashion or another.

Blanche is above and beyond the loneliest character. While she seems to exude the right characteristics used to surround one self with many friends, one can tell from her past that she has never really found her place. Blanche was a prostitute. She needed to feel the security of a man simply to feel loved- even if for one night.  Unfortunately, this "profession" caught up with her and ruined her one chance at a true relationship.

Stella can be seen as being lonely at certain points in the play as well. While she finds comfort in a neighbor after being abused by Stanley, her need lies with him- for it is only when she is with him when she feels complete. Therefore, when she leaves Stanly, even for a night, she considers herself lonely.

Mitch is another character who houses loneliness. He has lost a love and finds refuge in his mother. He knows that his mother will not live forever. He needs to find a woman to love him the way his mother does. Unfortunately, he thought he had that in Blanche, but he was wrong.

Many references to music signify loneliness as well. The lone instruments portray solitude. Another symbol is the Mexican woman sells flowers for the dead. She is alone and selling flowers to those who have been left as well.

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How is the theme of loneliness exemplified in A Streetcar Named Desire?

Many characters experience loneliness in this play, but the one who could be said to be the most lonely- and who acts upon that loneliness- is Blanche DuBois.

Blanche spends all of her time in the play trying to create an image of herself that doesn't really exist. Because she tries to portray herself as someone she is not, she is very lonely and never really allows anyone to get to know her true self. The most obvious symbol of this is the paper lantern. When she is speaking with Mitch in scene three, she asks him to cover the light bulb with the paper lantern, saying “I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.” Blanche has difficulty being in full light because she is afraid Mitch- or anyone else for that matter- will be able to see her flaws. This pertains not only to her physical features, but her personality as well. She doesn’t want anyone getting too close for fear they will get to know who she really is, creating a very lonely life for herself in which she is always pushing people away from the person she really is.

Other characters are clearly lonely as well. Mitch, for example, seems to gravitate toward Blanche simply because he is lonely and needs someone to lean on. His mother is ill, and he feels that he won’t have anyone to turn to when she is gone. Unfortunately, the Blanche that he thinks he is getting to know is not exactly the real Blanche. When he finds out the truth, he seems to go back on his desire to be in a committed relationship with Blanche, pushing her even further into her loneliness and despair.

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