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Themes in A Streetcar Named Desire

The play A Streetcar Named Desire revolves around Blanche DuBois; therefore, the main theme of the drama concerns her directly. In Blanche is seen the tragedy of an individual caught between two worlds-the world of the past and the world of the present-unwilling to let go of the past and unable, because of her character, to come to any sort of terms with the present. The final result is her destruction. This process began long before her clash with Stanley Kowalski. It started with the death of her young husband, a weak and perverted boy who committed suicide when she taunted him with her disgust at the discovery of his perversion. In retrospect, she knows that he was the only man she had ever loved, and from this early catastrophe evolves her promiscuity. She is lonely and frightened, and she attempts to fight this condition with sex. Desire fills the emptiness when there is no love and desire blocks the inexorable movement of death, which has already wasted and decayed Blanche’s ancestral home Belle Reve.

For Blanche, Belle Reve was the one remaining symbol of a life and a tradition that she knows in her heart have vanished, yet to which she clings with a desperate tenacity. She is dated. Her speech, manners and habit are foolishly passe, but still she cannot abandon this sense of herself as someone special, as a “lady” in the grand tradition. She knows she is an anachronism in an alien world and yet she will not compromise. She cannot and will not surrender the dream she has of herself, and even though she wants desperately not to be lonely, it is precisely the clinging to this dream, the airs, mannerisms and sense of herself, which alienate her further. She is trapped in a terrifying contradiction. Her ne…

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…his search for love, for the need to fill the void within her, is the essential reason for her promiscuity. Mitch, too, is a victim of loneliness. Although bound to his aged mother, he is restless and unsatisfied. He feels incomplete and longs for someone who will give him a sense of wholeness. He, like Blanche, had loved once and lost. In the mutual need of Blanche and Mitch, and in their inability to fulfill this need, they beautifully and poignantly express the theme of loneliness.

Works Cited

Adler, Thomas P. A Streetcar Named Desire: the Moth and the Lantern. Boston: Twayne, 1990.

Miller, Jordan. Twentieth Century Interpretations of a Streetcar Named Desire: a collection of critical essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1971.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: New American Library, 1942.

Taming the Beast in The Dream

Taming the Beast in The Dream

Dreams have long been the basis for extensive analysis, their meanings interpreted and reinterpreted. Some people believe that dreams reflect our repressed emotions, providing a necessary outlet for the negative aspects of our reality. Others find answers through dreams, believing that dreams provide simple solutions to seemingly complex issues in our lives. Louise Bogan, in her poem “The Dream,” describes a dream that expresses both repression and solution. It is a poem about fear, and Bogan’s message–the message of the dream, in fact–is that fear can be tamed through trust.

In the first stanza of the poem the speaker describes the fearful dream she had. Bogan introduces the symbol of a mighty horse that embodies the fear and retribution carried from the speaker’s childhood, fear and retribution that have been “kept for thirty-five years” (3). Bogan effectively uses metaphorical language as she describes the fear personified inthe horse as it “poured through his mane” (3) and the retribution as it “breathed through his nose” (4). The source of her fear is unclear, but it may be that the horse is a symbol of life that can be both beautiful and terrifying. The imagery created when the speaker tells us, “the terrible horse began / To paw at the air, and make for me with his blows” (1-2) describes a sense of entrapment as life corners her and spews forth repressed fear and retribution, emotions that must be faced.

The speaker’s shame at her cowardice is clear in the second stanza as she describes how she “lay on the ground and wept” (5). It is at this point that Bogan introduces another symbol in the poem, a woman who “leapt for the rein” (6). The stranger’s strength and cour…

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…eaning is clear, the last line contains three successive iambs in “put down his head in love.” Also, after a routine rhyme scheme of abab in the first three stanzas, Bogan introduces new tension in the last stanza with an abba rhyme scheme. The word “love” comes fresh and unexpectedly to rhyme with “glove,” just as Bogan’s poem points out that with trust comes peace, often just as fresh and unexpectedly.

Louise Bogan points out in her poem that life is rarely as predictable as we might like, but it must be faced, regardless of our fears. Like the speaker, we may be surprised by the gentleness and peace we find when we face life head on, offer it our love, and surrender to its power–just as it surrenders to ours.

Works Cited

Bogan, Louise. “The Dream.” The Riverside Anthology of Literature. Ed. Douglas Hunt. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton, 1990. 730.

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