Streetcar Named Desire

A motif is a reoccurring structure that helps contribute to the major themes, characterization, and dramatic intensity of a narrative.  In the play, “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams, the character Blanche Dubois is a fragile and sensitive woman.  She tries to avoid reality, preferring to live in her own little world.  Throughout the play, light and Blanche’s age are two important motifs that contribute to a major theme, reality versus illusion.  Blanche avoids being seen in direct, bright light.  She also constantly lies about her age.  In the play, “A Streetcar named Desire,” it is evident that Blanche refuses to be seen in the light and lies about her age in order to prevent anyone from seeing the reality of her fading beauty.  

In the play, light symbolizes the reality of Blanche's past.  She has lost many things in her life – her husband, her dignity, and her family’s plantation, Belle Reve.

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There are many times during the play where light reoccurs.  First, Blanche covers a naked light bulb in the Kowalski’s apartment with a Chinese paper lantern, “I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action” (Page 55).  

Secondly, Blanche refuses to go out with Mitch during the daytime or in well-lit locations.  In Scene 9, Mitch realizes Blanche's avoidance of light and confronts her with the stories Stanley has told him about her past, “Mitch: I don’t think I ever seen you in the light.  That’s a fact!” (Page ...

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