• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How much is Desire a force for destruction in the play 'A Streetcar Named Desire'?

Extracts from this document...


How much is Desire a force for destruction in the play 'A Streetcar Named Desire'? The play 'A Streetcar Named Desire' obviously has the theme of desire playing a key role in it, since the play is so named. However, due to it being only a title, it cannot distinguish the role of this emotion, the many different subtleties of this emotion, and even the diverse range of ways it can be taken as meaning. It is not merely an emotion, but a force of nature, even a rite of passage. Within the play itself, as this emotion runs through the various scenes, no one threatens it, or even particularly acknowledges its very existence; yet, if it is not mentioned, then it should be unable to affect the characters and the plot as a whole. The actual depiction and reality of desire has not changed over time, but reactions are very different to it in the play to both what they are now, and what they were thousands of years ago. In this period, men were seen as being superior to women, but women had their place in the social order nevertheless. Stanley talks about the Napoleonic code; this is still used today, but only in principle. This is because for the most part, women and men are their own separate entities and have their own lives. ...read more.


You also cannot be sure what love is classified as; Stella believes with her heart that it is, but a modern audience would surely be more sceptical of this claim. Her desirous love for Stanley has destroyed her chance of having a future as anything but a housewife in a small, cramped little flat in the middle of downtown New Orleans, since they create a child by the end of the play. Stella cannot leave without suffering prejudice and being stigmatised for the rest of her life; attitudes towards single mothers are very different to how they are now. In the modern day, the play is said to be an early example of women's rights improving. Megan Terry3 also agrees this play would strike a chord with modern audiences, as well as those of the time. 'Streetcar was a necessary addition... emotionally. It is a feminist play.' Not only has her future been destroyed by her desire for Stanley, but also her chance of having a peaceful life; Stanley is an 'animal thing' and occasionally strikes Stella. Nowadays this is unheard of, but then, according to Eunice, this happens often: 'There's nothing to be scared of. They're crazy about each other.' Desire can lead to the destruction of safety, a future, but worst of all, it leads to Stella being stranded towards the end of the play; she does not know whether to believe her sister or her husband. ...read more.


Death is the finality to life, and can be considered the exact opposite of desire. Whilst desire in the dictionary definition tries to create life and bring happiness on earth, death takes away life and can cause both unhappiness, and an end to being on earth. Death can not only mean the literal sense as in towards animate life, but also towards imagined fantasies; Blanche's illusions are brutally destroyed before her eyes, hastening her final descent into what you hope is madness, not consciousness. Her whole persona and almost her entire being are gone while still living; she has lost her new love, her freedom, her friends, family, beauty and her life. This destruction cannot be dismissed because it is not desire, but it is not desire. Londr�6 says that the move from desire to death is 'metaphorical', however I disagree; I think that in this play, the change is not metaphorical but physical. Death and desire are the two main themes of the entire play. Both of them are destructive, but both are necessary in life to life. Desire has far many more ways in which it can destroy life, but death is the final way. Nevertheless, desire is present from the beginning to the end of the play, and although it does not destroy everything, everything that it does touch is irreparably changed, so I believe that desire is the most destructive force in the play. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level A Street Car Named Desire section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

The writer has clearly researched the subject, but could use context more specifically and less vaguely. Similarly, while this is an articulate, expressive essay, waffle should be avoided and the argument should be kept sharply relevant. ***

Marked by teacher Karen Reader 22/02/2012

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level A Street Car Named Desire essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Tennessee Williams wrote in a letter that It (Streetcar) is a tragedy with the ...

    5 star(s)

    language as she explains 'I'm looking for the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters' whilst flirting with Mitch; Williams makes it clear she uses words as her weapon to confuse him into loving her, yet we now see her language being modified to provoke Stanley.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    How does Williams present the character of Blanche in scenes 1-3 of A Streetcar ...

    4 star(s)

    the other she unflinchingly denies this, telling Stella not to 'get worried' as she 'hasn't turned into a drunkard,' and also lies to Stanley when he 'holds the bottle to the light to observe its depletion.' Williams uses this conflict to present her as an unstable character.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How does Williams use dramatic devices in A Streetcar Named Desire to heighten the ...

    4 star(s)

    Blanche?s decent into madness could be linked to Hamlet perceived madness as initially it was caused by the death of those around her at Belle Reve and Hamlets due to the death of his father, following this Blanche then had to battle for her sisters affections like Hamlet had to battle for his mothers.

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

    She even admits to Stella that she has knowingly lied to her as she talks of putting "on soft colours", creating "temporary magic" to attract men. However, later in the play after she has been unmasked and abused by Stanley, she has almost completely retreated into her fantasies as she

  1. Significance of the title "A Streetcar Named Desire"

    After that, she moves on to have an affair with a seventeen year old student of hers, which leads to Mr Graves, the principal, firing her. Again there is a connection between death and desire. Eventually, the 'jig was all up' and a 'town ordinance is passed against her'.

  2. In what ways can 'A Streetcar Named Desire' be seen as a modern tragedy?

    Yet light also reveals Blanche's struggle between fantasy and reality. She cannot bear to see herself in the harsh light of day - even "screams" during the final scene when Stanley rips the covering off the lamp, completely destroying Blanche's already splintering fantasy world.

  1. Language in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

    Blanche's character has the most lines in the play and has the last line in every scene, proving that she always initiates and concludes the climax. The words she uses and her mannerisms are possibly quite typical of an English teacher, she seems to be someone who reads and interprets a lot of poetry and fairy-stories.

  2. Blanche and Mitch's relationship in "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams.

    This event scarred her, and she carried the guilt from his suicide from then on. I think that she feels she failed her husband, and she tries to find men who have some of his qualities and remind her of her dead husband.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work