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A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

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What do Blanche's baths symbolize in A Streetcar Named Desire?

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Blanche's baths symbolize a cleansing of her soul and an escape from the harshness of a world that has rejected her.

Blanche takes regular baths throughout A Streetcar Named Desire, ostensibly to calm her fraught nerves. The atmosphere inside her sister's apartment is invariably hot and clammy and this provides another reason for Blanche to retreat to the tub on a regular basis.

In symbolic terms, there's a lot more than meets the eye. One can say that, in taking regular baths, Blanche is engaging in a kind of ritual purification, a cleansing of the soul from the sin that has attached to it as a consequence of her scandalous actions in the past.

Taking a bath is also a way for Blanche to escape, albeit briefly, from a cruel world that couldn't care less about her and from which she feels increasingly estranged. In that sense, the bath provides Blanche with a kind of temporary sanctuary to which she can retreat when life becomes too much for her.

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