Escapism in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

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Escapism is an inclination to retreat from unpleasant realities through diversion or fantasy.

There are various occasions throughout A Streetcar Named Desire in which Tennessee Williams carefully highlights some of the characters tendencies to draw upon certain forms of escapism when they feel it necessary.


The use of alcohol as means of escapism is undoubtedly one of the most prominent motifs accentuated by Blanche. This is made evident by Williams from the onset of scene one through the stage directions:

“Suddenly she notices something in a half opened closet. She springs up and crosses to it, and removes a whiskey bottle. She pours a half tumbler of whiskey and tosses it down.” [page 6]

This sudden desire to consume alcohol follows Eunice’s questions concerning Belle Reve, an issue Blanche by all means would rather avoid. Unable to cope with the loss of the plantation and indeed the loss of life as she knows it, she turns to drink in an attempt to escape the reality of the situation.

Following this, Blanche and Stella are finally reunited, however this surprise reunion will not come without question and Blanche knows this. In order to escape from the truth she yet again reaches for alcohol:

“Open your pretty mouth and talk while I look around for some liquor! I know you must have some liquor in the place!” [page 7]

This enables Blanche to escape from the truth momentarily and thus stalls the process of giving her reasons for being there  - reasons she does not want to admit even to herself.

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In scene five, we see Blanche’s dismissive attitude towards the offer of a simple coke, minus any alcohol:

 “Well, honey, a shot never does a coke any harm!”[page 61]

Proceeding this she:

“finds a glass and pours a shot of whiskey into it.” [page 61]

Directly after this, Blanche resumes her role as an emotionally unstable character and airs her emotions with her sentimentality. Perhaps the drink she had prior to this was for the purposes of letting her guard down and escaping from the pretence and the façade she has come to be accustomed with.


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