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Significance of the title "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

What, for you, is the significance of the title, A Streetcar Named Desire? Throughout the play, A Streetcar Named Desire, there are many symbols and allusions that point the reader or the audience towards Blanche's true nature. One of these is the title itself. Not only is it unusual, it is basically the plot of the play and Desire is what eventually drives Blanche over the edge, amongst other things. In the opening scene, Blanche takes a 'Streetcar named Desire, then transfer(s) to one called Cemeteries and get(s) off at Elysian Fields'. Not only is Desire the vehicle that transports Blanche to her sister, Stella, it is literally what drives her to the Kowalski's doorstep. Right from the beginning, 'Desire' is linked to 'Cemeteries', in other words, death. As Blanche rightly says, 'the opposite of desire, is death'. 'Elysian Fields' refers to paradise, where Blanche hopes to end up. The day after brutal 'poker night', Stanley sneaks in under the noise of the train to hear Stella and Blanche talking about him. It is effectively Blanche's desire that deafens her from hearing Stanley's entrance.

Middle

Blanche does not realise that it was sex and desire itself that led to 'all of those deaths', and in the end, she ends up 'caught in (the) trap'. Desire and death is all one vicious cycle, so it comes as no surprise in the end that Blanche's desire leads to the death of her sanity. One of the main factors that lead to Blanche's neurosis is the suicide of her husband. Wracked by guilt, she firmly believes that she drove her husband to become gay and eventually kill himself out of shame. So, in order to prove her femininity and sexuality to herself, she 'had many intimacies with strangers'. As Blanche is 'lost', 'without anyone to hold onto', her desire drives her from man to man, 'hunting for some protection' or to 'pay for one night's shelter'. Desire is a mixture of sex and alcohol, and Blanche uses both as an anaesthetic to dull the pain and her heartache. As Blanche is an 'English instructor' and a poetry teacher, it is perhaps understandable that she is dramatic and lives in a fantasy world of romance.

Conclusion

It therefore, comes as no surprise that she and Stanley have 'had this date with each other from the beginning'. Even when Stanley tries to 'interfere with (her)', instead of running away she 'moves backwards...into the bedroom' almost as if to lead Stanley to the bed. The rape and the fact that Stella 'couldn't believe her story' both cause Blanche to lose whatever threads of insanity she has left. Blanche feels betrayed by Stella, the only person she has left who actually cares about her and 'is so good to (her)'. Stella left Blanche to 'take the blows in (her) face and in (her) body' by herself, so that she could get into 'bed with her Polack', as Blanche claims. Hence she feels abandoned by her 'precious little sister'. But as Blanche is a tragic heroine, the audience can only expect her to end up 'lost' and 'lonely'. Desire is the main thread that runs throughout the play; it entangles its characters in it. Streetcar is 'a cry of pain' as Arthur Miller rightly said, and 'forgetting that, is to forget the play'. The title, having originally been 'The Poker Night' was appropriately changed. For me, no play was evermore suitably titled than 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

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