Death in A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

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Death in A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams uses the theme of death continually in the play ‘A
Streetcar Named Desire’ through the use of dramatic imagery and literal references. The characters of Blanche and Mitch are used the most frequently to express Williams’ own obsession with death. Though neither of the characters actually obsesses about death, Blanche’s life has been smothered by the deaths of those she loves and the coming death of Mitch’s mother is an obvious motivation for his actions. Blanche first voices the theme of death in the very first scene whilst discussing the fate that has befallen Belle Reve. She passionately raves at length about the horrible deaths and her experience of loved ones dying
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Blanche has been so affected by this experience because of both the depth of her love and because she blames herself. Blanche knows that Allan shot himself because of her words to him, which reveals death to be a major theme in ‘A Streetcar…’ because Blanche is unable to think about his death without with an immense sense of guilt and sorrow.

Williams also uses these deaths to serve the purpose of leading
Blanche into what becomes her bleak and dangerous past. Blanche’s explanation of her actions shows how psychologically scarred she is as a result of a life burdened with death. She tells Mitch she lived in a house where “dying old women remembered their dead men” and of how after Allan’s death she sought protection “in unlikely places.” She then reminisces to herself about the bloodstained pillowcases and how the family had become too poor to afford a servant to look after the dying for them. Blanche remembers how she and her mother sat at opposite ends of the room while death was so close and yet they pretended it wasn’t there, acted as if they had never seen or heard of it, which reveals how Blanche’s life revolved around trying to escape from the death and the dying.

Later in the play Blanche significantly talks in detail about her own death to Stella and Eunice whilst waiting for Shep Huntleigh. This speech summarises Blanche’s character as Williams makes use of imagery to show how she will die as a

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