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Williams employs the symbol of light in order to emphasize Blanche's fear-raddled inner conflict against reality, Blanche's repeated avoidance of the light producing a powerful symbolic representation of her inability to face the truth

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Introduction

Williams employs the symbol of light in order to emphasize Blanche's fear-raddled inner conflict against reality, Blanche's repeated avoidance of the light producing a powerful symbolic representation of her inability to face the truth. The playwright utilizes the light bulb as the chief symbol of light; its physical state runs parallel to Blanche's conflict through the entirety of the play. The tearing of the light bulb serves as the climax, for it displays the transformation of Blanche's internal conflict into an external one, triggering the obliteration of Blanche's guise of illusion, and marking the beginning of her total degeneration. With the tearing of the light bulb, Williams also marks the end of light's role as a symbol of truth and/or reality, for Blanche's conflict against reality no longer exists; reality has conquered it, and what follows is the wrenching downfall of "Streetcar..."s tragic heroine. Up until the play's shocking climax, Blanche's avoidance of the light is symbolic of her attempts to create and maintain an illusionary world. Even before the protagonist seeks to escape reality through her actions and dialogue, Williams' descriptions of the character imply her fragility and desire to escape- "Her delicate beauty must avoid a strong light" (15). The description suggests that despite her beauty, the character remains flawed, and therefore must avoid the light in order to conceal her imperfections. ...read more.

Middle

belongs to people who have experienced some sorrow. " (54). Mitch agrees- "I believe you are right about that" (54), and sensing the increased connection, the protagonist erupts in an unrestrained flurry- "I'm positive that I am. Show me a person who hasn't known any sorrow...Tonight I had three". (54). This passage illustrates Blanche's deception of Mitch through her pretensions of unassuming innocence- "I'm not accustomed to having more than one drink", (54); contrary to the character's statement, Blanche has been drinking the entire day- in the morning upon her arrival to New Orleans; during her reunion with Stella, and we can assume from her slurred speech- "Shuperficial" (54), all throughout her outing with her sister as well. Shortly following the passage, the author emphasizes its implications of conflict (through the idea that Blanche is lying to escape reality), with a reference to the light bulb- "I bought this adorable little colored paper lantern...Put it over the light bulb!" (55). Blanche's desire to conceal the light bulb with the "little colored paper lantern" is symbolic of her desire to further distance herself off from reality- her inner conflict. She wishes to conceal the "naked light bulb" just as she wishes to conceal her drinking habits- "She pours a half tumbler of whiskey and tosses it down" (18) ...read more.

Conclusion

However, one has to wonder as to how "sane" the character was in the first place, if it meant abandoning the notion of a normal existence, with its trials and tribulations, for an illusionary world whose feigned perfection was impossible to maintain due to reality's inescapable reminders. Blanche's denial is indicative of a deep-rooted source of pain, her not being able to bear reality thanks to the hardships her character has been forced to endure. The symbol of light is especially important in representing Blanche's conflict against reality, as light in itself is unavoidable. This becomes more evident through Blanche's incessant efforts to evade the light, only to discover that whether or not she covers the light bulb, or stands in shadow, its presence will return to haunt her, as displayed by the vicious climax in which Mitch's character violently tears the paper lantern off the light bulb. The role of the light bulb is such that it remains the only symbol of light reflective of the state of Blanche's conflict; when the light bulb is covered, Blanche's conflict remains on the inside. Whereas the tearing of the paper lantern immediately prompts Blanche's revelation of her delusions, transforming her inner conflict into an external one. The light reveals flaws while shadow disguises them, just as Blanche avoids her imperfections, hence reality, taking refuge in her pretenses of naivety and sophistication, as signified by the shadow. Reality's threat to destroy Blanche's illusionary world mirrors light's threat to elucidate Blanche's physical imperfections ...read more.

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