A Streetcar Named Desire

"By maintaining an illusory exterior appearance, Blanche hopes to hide her troubled interior from both herself and the world at large." Justify this sentence

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Fantasy versus reality is the central thematic exploration in the play A Streetcar Named Desire, and is embodied in the characters of Blanche and Stanley. Blanche is deluded and lost in a world of false illusions in the play, symbolized through her constant obsession with beauty, youth and virtue. When Blanche is finally confronted with her fabrications, she claims that her fibs are defenses against the lot the world has given her. However, Blanche’s reality itself is distorted, and her perceptions of herself and others are based not on any semblance of reality but merely imagination and emotion.

Blanche’s grief at the loss of her young husband impacted her ability to see the world objectively. As such, she became trapped in the pursuit of something she could never regain; this is why Blanche has had illicit affairs with many men, or so she claims. Everything from Blanche’s costume jewelry to her speech and demeanor represent illusion without reality to back it up. As Blanche states in Scene Nine, “I don't want realism. I want magic!” (Scene Nine, p. 157).

Stanley, on the other hand, embodies the opposite characteristics of Blanche. He is straightforward, honest, and hard-working. Stanley is described as animal-like and in his primitive way, he reflects reality, honesty and truth. Stella must face a decision between these two forces in the play and eventually chooses a middle ground: accepting the illusion of her husband’s innocence while maintaining a realistic outlook for their lives together.