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A Streetcar Named Desire

Research papers that look at truth and Illusion in A Streetcar Named Desire discover that most scholars agree that playwright Tennessee Williams is one of the most significant figures in the history of American theater.  His highly influential dramatic legacy has helped to establish the artistic sensibilities of many important actors, playwrights, and directors. His most celebrated work, including The Glass Menagerie, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, Summer and Smoke, Sweet Bird of Youth,and Orpheus Descending, have moved generations of audiences and critics alike.  A Streetcar Named DesireThematically, Williams attempted to demonstrate the contradictory impulses directing the choices and actions of ultimately frail individuals within the context of a myriad of negative forces exerted by society.  In A Streetcar Named Desire, often considered his finest work, Williams attempts to juxtapose the anachronistic virtues of a past time with the harsh reality of the brutality that characterizes modern life.  An examination of the symbolic relationship between truth and illusion in the play reveals the polarity of these two contrasting perspectives.

Although Williams uses the characters of Stanley and Blanche to represent the extremes on the spectrum of reality and truth, he uses the character of Stella to depict the midpoint of these two modes of existence.  Stella, like the great majority of people, is realistic about some circumstances and events in her life, and self-deluding about others.  For example, she is comfortable in acknowledging the commonness of her husband and the shabbiness of her domestic surroundings, but she is unable to admit to herself the possibility that Blanche accusing Stanley of rape might be an actuality.  In this manner, Williams uses the character of Stella to mediate between the harsh, brutal reality depicted in Stanley’s demeanor and the romantic machinations Blanche uses to handle the problems in her life. 

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