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Discuss the theme of illusion and reality in A Streetcar Named Desire.

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Introduction

Corrigan has said that "the conflict between Blanche and Stanley is an externalisation of the conflict that goes on within Blanche between illusion and reality." Discuss the theme of illusion and reality in A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche and Stanley are the two protagonists in A Streetcar Named Desire, and their views are polarised. Stanley represents complete realism and Blanche is fantastical and idealistic, the schism between the two clearly shows the struggle between reality and illusion in the play. Stanley's aim is to obliterate the nostalgic and fantastical reverie that dominates Blanche's mindset. The title of the play suggests a struggle between reality and illusion as the mundane concreteness of "streetcar" and the abstract quality of aspiration evoked in "desire" point to the juxtaposition of conflicting themes of realism and dreams. Blanche lives in a dream world, her reference to a "Barnum and Bailey world" in scene seven exposes the "phony" world she has created in her mind. ...read more.

Middle

It shows an ability to face the truth, however bitter it may be. Blanche cannot stand bright light. She has made the mistake of being "deluded" by Allan's entry into her life; a "blinding light". His suicide left her in desolation and darkness as the "searchlight on the world" was extinguished. Ever since his death, she has avoided light, the symbol of truth. Light is an enemy to her, for she knows it can destroy her illusions. When Mitch pulls her into the light to expose the truth of her appearance and age, Blanche's dream world is destroyed. She is left with no hope and no future. The headlight of the locomotive frequently passing outside also brings on the same fear of exposure. Stanley aims to ruin Blanche's dreams. He is obsessed with unmasking her lies and wants pure, harsh realism to prevail. He tells Blanche of how his disapproves of women who put on airs and graces and who "give themselves credit for more than they've got". ...read more.

Conclusion

He destroys her completely as he dismantles her dream world. Exposing her as a fraud and finally obliterating her sustaining belief that she could find safety and "protection" in men by raping her. Blanche's ideals become so confused that she cannot face reality at all; Stanley has only pushed her further into her dreams. Reality and illusion come into conflict in the play under the guise of these two characters, however, neither wins as Blanche becomes completely deluded and bewildered and Stanley has not managed to make her face reality, as he desperately wanted to do. Ironically, there is a strong sense at the close of the play that Stanley will come under threat from the reality and honesty he tries so hard to uphold; the sense that his marriage will suffer as Stella carries the enduring doubt as to whether Stanley is innocent. Blanche constantly faces reality and then retreats into her dream world in A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley is the brutal adversary who desperately tries to suppress Blanche's imagination, and instead only pushes her away as she retreats completely into fantasia. Ali Llewellyn K 1 ...read more.

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