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A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

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What happens to Blanche at the end of A Streetcar Named Desire?

Quick answer:

At the end of the play, Blanche is sent to a mental institution.

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Throughout A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche has been waging a war on reality. She lies about her age. She lies about why she needs to stay with Stella and Stanley. She lies about her values and sexual behavior. She never does this with malicious intent, but because reality has been harsh and painful for her. She hopes by lying about reality she can make living in it more bearable. During the climax, she faces off against Stanley, who represents cold reality. Her lies have all fallen apart, alienating her boyfriend, Mitch, and her sister, Stella. Stanley mocks Blanche about her constant delusions and then rapes her, sending Blanche into a full mental break from the real world.

In the play's final scene, Stanley and Stella choose to send Blanche to a psychiatric institution. Stella cannot bring herself to believe Stanley raped Blanche. The doctor and a nurse appear at the house to collect Blanche. Blanche initially resists and the nurse wrestles her down. She wants to put Blanche in a straightjacket, but the doctor instead chooses to play into Blanche's fantasies about Southern gentility, offering her his arm. Blanche takes his arm and willingly goes with him, an illustration of how she has fully succumbed to her fantasy world.

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