Theme Of Desire In A Streetcar Named Desire

Submitted By Bears135
Words: 1787
Pages: 8

Driven By Desire

In Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, all of the defining characters are plagued with various desires, which, while dramatic in the fiction novel, are all too realistic. The characters Blanche, Stella, Stanley, and Mitch struggle with desire, and its power leads them to make decisions that surpass all logic and personal morals. Blanche, the main character, is tortured by her desire for love, companionship, and her own need to be desired. Stella, Blanche’s sister, is so blinded by her brutal desire and passion for her husband, that she relies on these emotions rather than logic. Stanley, Stella’s husband, is an alpha male, desiring to always be in control and dominating over the females in his life. Mitch, Stanley’s friend and Blanche’s love interest, desires companionship in a wife, leading to his desperation and heartbreak. All of the contexts in which characters fall victim to desire have a psychological basis, from their need for love to their destructive choices. Desire, the central theme in A Streetcar Named Desire, is an emotion that dramatically shapes the characters’ lives and has a realistic basis in psychology. Looking at the psychology behind the desires of the characters in the book, we see the realistic and tragic nature of this book. Blanche, a woman who grew up in high-class society, went through an emotionally destructive marriage, forming the desperate character she came to be. Blanche was married to a gay man, who committed suicide based off the guilt he felt for their phony relationship. His uncontrollable desires hurt her and damaged her own personal morals and self-control; she became desperate for love and attention, and this desire led her down a path of self-destruction. Through one-night stands, an affair with a student from school, and uncontrolled flirting, Blanche did anything to satisfy her desire, even if momentary and even if it was wrong. Blanche’s upbringing and morals were enough for her to know that what she did was wrong, evident in her later confessions and obvious regret. But the loss of her spouse and her guilt were fuel for the desires that grew inside her; the desire for a new companion and to be desired herself became all encompassing. Her mental decline throughout the story is rapid and irreparable, all starting with the loss of her spouse. The devastating effect of the loss of Blanche’s husband is not without basis; according to Australian research in 2010, “There was a decline in mental health for… women who were separated or became widowed” (Loss of a Spouse). This initial event led to the need to be loved, and over the years, Blanche felt she was further and further away from her goal. Blanche lied about her age, would not enter a room where the light was strong so no one could see her aged face, and attempted to dress a certain way and flirt to be attractive to any man she saw (including her own sister’s husband). These irrational behaviors have a scientific basis; Blanche took her actions to the extreme to mask her age and desirability, but it is a part of life that age decreases attractiveness. In studies that show what makes females attractive to males, the ratios of circumferences of the waist and hips are most important in body attractiveness. The development of this ratio is “controlled by the sex hormones, such that estrogen stimulates fat deposition… as women approach menopause, more fat is deposited around the waist, and [the ratio] increases” (Fisher and Voracek 191). This demonstrates the automatic effect that age has on decreasing attractiveness of women. In another study, surveys were taken by men to rate characteristics of women that men find most attractive. “In men’s judgment of female attractiveness, the most important items included, “body scent, nose, lips, waist, thighs… appearance of eyes, cheeks/cheekbones, hips, legs, figure or physique… appearance of stomach, health, physical condition, face, and weight” (Franzoi and