A Streetcar Named Desire

by: Tennessee Williams

Fantasy

1

Turn that over-light off! Turn that off! I won’t be looked at in this merciless glare.

Early in Scene One, Blanche orders Stella to turn off the light, introducing one of the play’s important motifs: light and dark as symbols of reality and fantasy. Blanche does not want to be revealed in the light of truth. She prefers the mysterious shadows of her own delusions. She works hard to avoid the merciless glare of reality by drinking alcohol, indulging in fantasies, and maintaining a “hoity-toity” tone amidst the bawdy realities of the Kowalski household.

2

Stella: What are you laughing at honey? Blanche: Myself, myself, for being such a liar! I’m writing a letter to Shep.

This is a rare moment in which Blanche reveals the dishonesty of her fantasies about meeting Shep Huntleigh in Dallas with the purpose of talking him out of money to start a business and better hers and Stella’s lives. Shep owns oil wells and drives a luxury Cadillac convertible. Blanche's letter to Shep includes lies about her current lifestyle being a continual round of teas, cocktails, and luncheons with wealthy friends on the Gulf. Blanche lies, strategizing that Shep is more likely to give her money if he believes she is a popular and important figure.

3

We are going to be very Bohemian. We are going to pretend that we are sitting in a little artists’ café on the Left Bank in Paris! [She lights a candle stub and put it in a bottle.] Je suis la Dame aux Comellias! Vous etes Armand! Understand French?

Over drinks, Blanche embarks on some role playing with Mitch, fantasizing about who and where they are in scenarios that are in sharp contrast to their realities. When Mitch responds that he doesn’t know French, Blanche asks him, in French, to go to bed with her that night. For Blanche, fantasies are realities and realities are fantasies. Sadly for both of them, Mitch does not play along with her games.

4

“Say it’s only a paper moon, Sailing over a cardboard sea—But it wouldn’t be make believe If you believed in me!”

Blanche is in the bathroom taking a bath in Scene Seven when she can be heard singing this popular tune from 1933. The lyrics refer to fantasies becoming realities if people simply believe the fantasies are true. It is a fitting song for Blanche to sing while Stanley informs Stella about Blanche’s sordid past at the Flamingo Hotel in Laurel. We begin to understand that the identity Blanche presents to the world is beginning to show its frailty and its fakery.

5

I don't want realism. I want magic! [Mitch laughs] Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!

Blanche is talking to Mitch later in the evening after he has stood her up on her birthday. Earlier, Stanley informed Mitch about Blanche’s past and, as a result, Mitch is no longer trying to impress her. While they are talking, Mitch wants to turn on the light to see Blanche better, but she resists. With both her actions and her words, Blanche reveals that she is not interested in truth. She prefers fantasy and lies.