Ambitious People Triumph and on the Contrary Fail Due to Violence

Themes and motifs

[edit] Illusion versus reality

A recurring theme that can be found in A Streetcar Named Desire is a the reflection of old America and the thriving new America of the immigrants. Blanche is penniless and Stanley, as a Polish immigrant, is powerful and confident. There is constant conflict between reality and fantasy, actual and ideal. Blanche says "I don't want realism, I want magic." This recurring theme is read most strongly in Williams' characterization of Blanche DuBois and the physical tropes that she employs in her pursuit of what is magical and idealized: a paper lampshade with which she covers the harsh white light bulb in the living room; her chronically deceptive recounting of her last years in Belle Reve; the misleading letters she presumes to write to Shep Huntleigh; and a pronounced tendency toward excessive consumption of alcohol. As one critic writes, "Blanche spins a cocoon linguistically for protection."[citation needed] Blanche creates her own fantasy world through the characters she plays, such as the damsel, southern belle or school teacher. She wears her costumes to create a fa├žade to hide behind, concealing her secrets and attempting to reach her former glory, and illustrating her inability to relate to others in a "normal" sense.
Notably, Blanche's deception of others and herself is not characterized by malicious intent, but rather a heart-broken and saddened retreat to a romantic time and happier moments before disaster struck her life (her previous loved one, the refined Allan Gray, committed suicide during a Varsouviana Polka, as a reaction to Blanche's revulsion when she discovered he was homosexual, after she accidentally encountered him having sex with another man).
The contrast between Blanche and Stanley can be understood as reflecting a similar opposition: the 'fake', illusionary and self-deceptive woman, versus her sister's coarsely, brutally present and animalistic husband, simplistic and 'real' in his...