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What part does fantasy play in the lives of the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire; how is this fantasy presented and to what effect on the audience?

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Introduction

I.B. ENGLISH A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE ESSAY Selma Mehmedovic What part does fantasy play in the lives of the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire; how is this fantasy presented and to what effect on the audience? "I don't want reality. I want magic." In Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire, we see how Blanche finds herself in a "desperate situation" as all her "lies and deceit and tricks" begin to haunt her until finally she is no longer able to distinguish reality from illusion. Unfortunately for her, Blanche is "only passing through" Elysian Fields, the quarter with its "raffish charm" and ominous ring (asylum) as we sense that her future is "mapped out" for her "from the beginning". She engages Stanley in a dramatic battle for territory, creating illusions in a final attempt to find that "cleft in the rock of the world" after having run from "one leaky roof to another" searching for "protection". Williams makes Blanche's vulnerability clear from the outset by alerting us to the incongruity between her costume and moth like appearance and the streetcar "that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another". Blanche is no longer able to deal with reality; the loss of Belle Reve, the death of her young husband, loss of her job and fading looks all force her to turn to illusion. ...read more.

Middle

Williams further emphasizes Blanche's deteriorating state of mind through her dialogue. With her illusions in place, Blanche's speech flows uninterrupted as she takes control of the situation. When uncertain and at times hysterical, Williams employs irregular punctuation, often with dashes and pauses, to display her confusion and uncertainty as she gradually begins loose her grip on reality. Williams' use of dramatic irony alerts the audience to his protagonist's deceptive character and the lies that she uses to cover her disreputable past. For Blanche, alcohol is the drug that is able to relieve the harsh reality and we chuckle at her response that "she rarely touch[es] it" as through dramatic irony we are already aware of her two previous drinks. Juxtaposed with Blanche, Stanley's actions and dialogue accentuate his "ape" like ways. His speech, often consisting of single words, in addition with his actions as he "heaves", "tosses", "snatches" and "stalks fiercely" emphasize his unrefined character and raw animalistic magnetism. "He acts like an animal, has an animal's habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one!" Lighting is used by Williams throughout the play to expose Blanche's final attempts to "make a little- temporary magic". The symbolic "paper lantern" that conceals the "naked light bulb" seems to represent Blanche's attempts to conceal reality in order to hide behind her illusions. ...read more.

Conclusion

Rather than helping Blanche, her fragile illusions and fantasies lead to her deterioration and ultimately her ruin. Fantasy is an outlet of escape that Blanche shakily clings to. She wants to be rescued, to be loved, to be what she once was, to be "believed in". Stella also insists on maintaining her fantasy, unable to believe Blanche's story that Stanley raped her and "go on living with Stanley". Despite her pragmatic nature, she too turns to a world of fantasy in order to have her "existence admitted". The rape scene represents the death of Blanche's illusions, leaving her with nowhere to hide. Stanley turns "a blinding light on something that has always been in half shadow", succeeding in destroying Blanche's own little world of "enchantment", again establishing his dominance by "killing her illusions". People like Stanley "abused her, and forced her to change" by taking advantage of her vulnerability and somewhat na�ve nature, forcing her to turn to illusion. However, when Blanche's fantasies clash with reality, they ironically lead to her demise, although we cannot really condemn Blanche for her "lies and deceit" for she "never lie[d] in [her] heart". For Blanche, fantasy is "what ought to be the truth." Allows us Emphasized by Williams Brutality Sanctuary Eternity in the palm of your hand Cheap accusations Spear his fork into the remaining chop which he eats with his fingers Date from the beginning However, throughout the play the audience feels the tension between her illusions, and the penetrating brutality of reality ...read more.

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