A Streetcar Named Desire,” the obsessive need to escape from reality defines the protagonist Blanched Dubos. Haunted by the fact that she incited the suicide of her young husband, Blanched is unable to cope with what has since become of her life. She relies on fables and illusions to reconstruct a more socially acceptable self. However, the antagonistic relationship between Blanched and Stanley Kowalski threatens her fantasy, as he continuously confronts her with reality and threatens to shatter the illusions others have about her.
Stanley represents complete realism and Blanched is fantastical and idealistic. Thus, the interactions between the two are clearly representative of the struggle between reality and fantasy in the play. A struggle in which reality triumphs as Blanched ultimately becomes unable to differentiate between the truth and her lies. From the very beginning of the play, it is clear that the world Blanched lives in a fantasy land. A world in which her indiscretions and lack of wealth do not affect her status as an aristocratic lady.
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Throughout the play, Blanched plays the part of the outworn belle; a polished persona that does not reflect who she truly is. In scene 3, when the men are playing poker, she walks into the room and says “please don’t get up,” even though nothing indicates that they will stand (3. 38). By simply saying this, Blanched indicates that men standing up when she enters the room is the kind of customary gallantry she is used to. Thus, she further reinforces the illusion that she is a southern belle.
However, in the very same scene, Blanched stands in front of the light in very thin and white clothing to purposely expose herself in front of a room of ale strangers. And yet, even exhibiting behavior better attributed to a harlot than a southern belle does not seem to have any affect Blanches delusions of being a respectable woman. Though Blanched is clearly a master of self-deception, it becomes imperative for others to also believe her illusions in order for her to continue living in her fantasy world. She is always trying to look aristocratic, decorating herself in furs and pearls.
Blanched seeks to create an image of herself within others and have their fabricated opinions maintain her illusions. The nostalgic reverie that is her mindset, compels her to give the illusion that nothing has changed. Thus, looking good is really about looking young. For example, in scene seven, Stella is putting candles on Blanches birthday cake. When Stanley wants to know how many she is planning to put on the cake, she states, “I’ll stop at twenty-five” (7. 68). It is clear, that Stella is aware of the need to preserve Blanches illusions of youth.
If this illusion shatters, Blanched becomes susceptible to the reality that she is in her thirties and still single. This is owe Stella attempts to protect Blanched from the truth that she knows her sister is unable to cope with. As the polar opposite of Blanched, Stanley is very realistic and displays this with his brutal honesty. His shows his need for literal truth by relentlessly investigation into Blanches past. As a realist, Stanley seeks to obliterate everything that Blanched stands scene two, it becomes clear that Stanley is representative of reality.
In their first conversation, William writes that he offers Blanched a drink to which she responds, “no, I rarely touch it” (2. 95). Unconvinced, Stanley states, “some people rarely touch it, but it touches them often” (2. 196). This foreshadows on the following discrepancies between Blanches statements and her actions. Despite her claims of being sophisticated and proper, Blanched cannot resist her desire for alcohol and male attention. This is the interaction that initiates the struggle between Blanched, who seeks to maintain her fantasies, against Stanley, who seeks to force her into accepting reality.
Eventually, Stanley investigations into Blanches past prove rewarding and he reseeds to expose Blanched as a manipulative harlot to Mitch, her love interest. In scene seven, Mitch confronts Blanched with the truth that Stanley has revealed to him about her past indiscretions. This leads to an argument in which Blanched finally admits, “l don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth” (9. 44). This event leaves Blanched feeling unwanted, and prompts her to preserve what is left of her fantasy world.
She comes up with the ridiculous story of a telegram she received from an old admirer, a man named Mr…. Sheep Hunting, who is going to take her away on a Caribbean cruise. However, it appears that after the confrontation with Mitch, Blanches grasp on reality has loosened. She tries desperately to contact Mr…. Sheep Hunting, a character of her own fabrication. Stanley attempt to drag her out of her fantasy world have only made Blanched grasp tighter onto her delusions and she can no longer differentiate what is real from what is fantasy.
Though reality triumphs over fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire, it seems that antsy preserves what is left of Blanched. Stanley rape and Stella reluctance to believe her prompts Blanches psychological undoing. Her insanity emerges as meaner of self-preservation. At the end of the play, she retreats into her own private world order to avoid accepting that she has, yet again, been betrayed by someone she loves and left unwanted. Blanches final, deluded happiness suggests that, to some extent, fantasy is important in life. In the end, the inevitable triumph of reality leads Blanched to an even crueler fate.