The fusion of Eros and Thanatos in A Streetcar Named Desire

1084 WordsJun 6, 20145 Pages
The fusion of Eros and Thanatos in A Streetcar Named Desire Death and desire have been linked closely together ever since Freud identified Eros (the instinct of life, love and sexuality) and Thanatos (the instinct of death and destruction) as two coinciding and conflicting drives within human being (Cranwell). In Tennesse Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) these fundamental drives of Eros and Thanatos dominate the story from the beginning to the end. This becomes particularly clear through the narrative of the protagonist of the play, Blanche DuBois, to whom the inextricable link between desire and death leads to tragedy. The presence of death in A Streetcar Named Desire is established from the beginning with the opening…show more content…
As she reveals to Mitch in the end of the play, intimacies with strangers was all she seemed to be able to fill her empty heart with after the death of her young husband, Allan (Baym 2349). What Blanche obviously has not realized is that the unnatural, “messed up” relationship to her own desire has made it destructive and thereby inextricably linked it to death. Not until she hears the Mexican woman selling “Flowers for the dead”, her illusion starts to “crumble and fade” (Baym 2350) and gradually gets torn apart. First by Mitch, who tears away the paper lantern and exposes Blanche to the harsh light of reality. Then by Stanley who uncovers Blanche’s spotted past and reject her hopes of Mitch returning with roses or the millionaire Shep Huntleigh coming for her rescue, because as he puts it “There isn’t a goddam thing but imagination!” (Baym 2353) After being stripped of her life-affirming and life-sustaining illusions, Blanche cannot do anything but stare ”blankly and silently into the face of her executioner and sees in his visage the immanent prospect of her own destruction.” (Crandell) When Stanley finally rapes Blanche out of pure

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