MOTIFS CONNECTED WITH BLANCHE FROM A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE The term motif is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as a theme repeated and developed in artistic work. Tennessee Williams was once quoted as saying "Symbols are nothing but the natural speech of drama… the purest language of plays' This is clearly evident in A Streetcar Named Desire. In analyzing the main character of the story, Blanche DuBois, it is crucial to use both the literal implication of the text as well as the motifs, the symbols and the imagery incorporated in the story to get a complete and thorough understanding of her. The actions of all the characters in the play are driven by desire. Blanche desires to be loved and needs to be wanted. But it is in pursuit of what she desires, that she so completely wrecks her life in Laurel.
Belle Reve, the home where she and Stella grew up translates into beautiful dream. This is symbolic of her fairytale life and suggests that realism was rarely a reality. I see symbolism in the fact that the high school superintendent is named Graves and he is the one who banishes her from Laurel on account of her overstepping the boundaries with one of her students. It gives an indication of her impending decay and complete fall from grace. The symbolism of desire in the play is emphasised by the fact that to get to Stella s home Blanche had to take a streetcar with the same name. She also had to take a streetcar called Cemeteries to reach the magical land of Elysian Fields where she hoped to find salvation and a new beginning Elysian Fields is a place described in the Aen ied where people are given the opportunity to relieve their lives the way they wanted to.
All this ties in with what Blanche wanted from her move to New Orleans. Her desire to make herself a new life is symbolized by the fact of her constantly bathing. This represents her need to purify herself from her past. She feels responsible for the death of her husband, and while dealing with that guilt, had to also watch her parents and family die off and endure the foreclosure of Belle Reve at the same time. Another idea that Williams plays with is the symbolism of light and shade. In the play light represents reality, which is why Blanche never allows herself to be seen under any direct lighting.
She is fearful that people will see though her lies and her "fantasy world', and discover who and what she really is. The possibility of anyone discovering her true age or revealing that her delicate beauty is nothing more then a mere illusion is terrifying for her. In the dark she feels that she is at her best, that no one is able to see what is going on inside of her. She says ' I like it dark.
The dark is comforting to me.' With the paper lantern covering the light bulb, she feels that her illusions are safe, for she is always in the shade. She believes that darkness aids her in maintaining her mystery and brilliance, as she struggles to find her place in her new home. Throughout the book it is possible to describe the confrontation between Blanche and Stanley as a poker game. The importance of the poker game in the play is proven by the fact that Tennessee Williams was thinking of calling the play "The Poker Night'. In the first four scenes of the play, Blanche plays a good bluff.
She tricks everyone into believing that she is a woman of country-girl manners and high moral integrity... However, Stanley then goes on a quest for the truth. Once he uncovers the truth about her past he has the upper hand. Stanley caps his win by raping her.
It is interesting to note that in the last scene of the play, when Blanche is being taken away, Stanley is winning every hand in a poker game he is playing with friends. This symbolizes his absolute victory over Blanche. In studying the main character of A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche DuBois, it is necessary to use both a literal translation of the text as well as interspersed symbolism to have a complete understanding of her. Tennessee Williams the author of the play wrote it this way on purpose. In fact he once said that "Art is made out of symbols the way the body is made out of vital tissue'.
This is a wonderful quotation to show just how necessary it is to incorporate symbolism in an interpretation of a story.