Symbolism of the Lantern in William´s A Streetcar Named Desire

Decent Essays

In Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, he uses a Chinese paper lantern to symbolize Blanche’s own insecurities. Some would say that the lantern is just used as a prop but in actuality it is a reflection of how Blanche feels about herself. The lantern is used to cover up something that is not so appealing just as Blanche uses clothes and other frivolous things to mask herself. Blanche takes all of her insecurities and buries them underneath her cheap fashion and lies so she may seem more desirable to others. The Chinese paper lantern serves as an important symbol of Blanche because it puts her insecurities onto, quite literally, a piece of paper. All the light bulb needed to look more attractive was the paper lantern and “lo and behold the …show more content…

She covers herself to appear less fragile so she is able to protect her delicate state. The symbolism of the lantern is still in question up until Blanche learns of the rumors that are being spread about her. Blanche uses the lantern as a means to characterize herself:
“I never was hard or self-sufficient enough. When people are soft – soft people have got to shimmer and glow – they’ve got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and put a – paper lantern over the light…. It isn’t enough to be soft. You’ve got to be soft and attractive.
And I – I’m fading now! I don’t know how much longer I can turn the trick. “(Williams 56)
Without realizing, Blanche compares herself to being like the light bulb and how it uses a paper lantern to cover up. She is however, fully aware of her alternating personality and that she uses it to impress others because in order for people to like her she feels she has to act like something that she is not making her very vulnerable. In order to protect herself, Blanche covers up by making fake stories and lying to everyone to seem more attractive. When her sister asks why she cares so much about her age, Blanche responds, “Because of hard knocks my vanity’s been given. What I mean is—he thinks I’m sort of prim and proper, you know. I want to deceive him enough to make him—want me . . .” (Williams 58). As opposed to letting herself shine, Blanche uses the

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