How Does Williams Present the Themes of Illusion and Fantasy in a Streetcar Named Desire?

899 WordsFeb 4, 20124 Pages
How does Williams present the themes of illusion and fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire? The theme of reality vs. fantasy is one that the play centres around. Blanche dwells in illusion; fantasy is her primary means of self-defence, both against outside threats and against her own demons. Throughout the play, Blanche's dependence on illusion is contrasted with Stanley's steadfast realism, and in the end it is Stanley and his worldview that win. To survive, Stella must also resort to a kind of illusion, forcing herself to believe that Blanche's accusations against Stanley are false so that she can continue living with her husband. One of the main ways Williams dramatises fantasy’s inability to overcome reality is through an…show more content…
She seems to hint to Stella and Stanley, and therefore the audience, that she is actually much more than she seems. In scene seven, Blanche soaks in a tub, singing: 'Say, it's only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea -But it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me! It's a Barnum and Bailey world, Just as phony as it can be -But it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me!' As she sings this song, telling the story of her tendency to believe a more pleasant, warped view of reality over the actual reality, Stanley is telling Stella the horrifying truth about Blanche's scandalous past. These lyrics sum up Blanche’s approach to life. She believes that her lying is only her means of enjoying a better way of life and is therefore essentially harmless. In scene nine, Blanche is confronted by Mitch, who has learned the truth about her past. Mitch tells Blanche that he has never seen her in the light. He tears Blanche's paper lantern off of the plain, bright light bulb, and tries to see her as she really is, and not in a view warped by Blanche's efforts to make herself seem more innocent, young, and beautiful than she is. Blanche responds to
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