Streetcar Named Desire Final Essay

Submitted By ellendavies
Words: 1550
Pages: 7

Paige Davies
Shipley p. 5
AP Literature Outside Reading Extra Credit

The Truth: A Streetcar Named Desire Truthfulness is a theme that is intrinsically imbedded in the play Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. While truth is a virtue to which most aspire, it manifests itself differently in the novel as the characters’ individual thoughts, assessments and interpretations collide to skew their particular attitudes and actions. Williams uses the dichotomy of truth versus lie to define each of the play’s main roles; Stanley, Blanche and Stella, to both delineate between them as individuals and to explain their relationships to one another. The modes of truth; whether direct, manipulated or concealed, are used to identify and define each role and assist the audience to understand each individual’s motivation and rational for their actions. If a lie forfeits truth than one must conclude that Blanche is the worst, or most amoral, of the three characters. Yet, Blanche actions do not reflect that simplistic definition. Blanche herself admits she utilizes lies as an illusion or mask to hide her demons and/or impeding threats. “I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman’s charm is fifty per cent illusion, but when a thing is important I tell the truth, and this is the truth:” (Williams). She comes to New Orleans out of despair yet, allows herself to hide behind a reality of fantasy of her own plight. When she meets Stanley, who directly pursues the truth concerning Blanche’s situation, she intelligently hides the truth of her sordid past by admitting to other truths that diffuse his outright onslaught upon her. “Here all of them are, all papers! I hereby endow you with them! Take them, peruse them--commit them to memory, even!” This use of truth to cover other truths is the basis for understanding Blanche’s role (Williams). Manipulation of the truth is exemplified in Blanche’s attempt to entice Mitch into marriage by painting herself as a virginal debutant. “I want to deceive him enough to make him --want me...” Blanche continues to Stella “....I want to rest! I want to breathe quietly again! Yes--I want Mitch...very badly!” In Blanche’s mind the facade that she is presenting to Mitch is not a lie rather a representation of the person she most wants to emulate (Williams). While it is true that she no longer holds any of these virtues, she continued to attempt to portray them to the unknowing suitor, Mitch, who was naive, or more specifically, yearning for somebody to love. In scene six, Blanche carefully enfolds before Mitch the “truth” about her past while again reserving the most sensational of exploits. She dismisses his sexual advances, playing to the demure image she has built, and excitedly jumps into his arms when he asks if she would be interested in marriage. In the end, it is the simple lies that are Blanche’s demise because when the truth of her behaviors in Laurel are exposed she has already forfeited her “word” and is no longer deemed to be reliable. Her sister, Stella, who throughout the play hides from the truth, easily dismisses Blanche’s rape by Stanley as just another lie or, more specifically, a delusion. This event evokes the audience to understand that despite Stella’s apparent weaknesses, it is her that makes the final and most poignant decision to institutionalize her sister. For Mitch, the truth is infuriating as he ruminates for being so gullible and confronts Blanche about her past. No longer willing allowing her to hide behind the shadows of her lies he strips the shades off the lights in a similar way that he strips her of her dignity bringing her closer to a state of insanity. Blanche’s history of manipulating the truth is once more her undoing in relation to Stella’s decision to ignore Blanche’s claim of sexual assault. Stella demonstrated throughout play the tendency to hide from the truth so that she may contort events to her advantage. This is seen multiple times in the play;