Illusions Causing Rejections of Uncertain Futures
An individual’s perception of reality can be impacted by negative events from her past. These events could cause the person to develop an illusion of reality that feels more secure than what is real. However, an imagination of reality can affect a person negatively by causing them to reject dubiety in their life. “Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams follows the journey of Blanche who has created a fantasy of an alternate reality in her mind to escape the grips of guilt and uncertainty. Williams uses “Streetcar Named Desire” to express how imagination affects individual willingness to reject an uncertain future.The modern drama portrays Blanche’s interactions with the other characters and the memories of her troubled past to effectively establish this idea.
Blanche is affected by her past relationships with other men that have resulted in disastrous consequences for her emotional well-being. She is in pursuit of a person whom she can trust and who can help her in her struggle for emotional security. This is evident in the multiple partners she has had with whom she had sexual intercourse with in a bid to receive self worth and affection in return. This is further expressed in the memory of her previous husband which is essential in affirming how the past has affected her on a personal and emotional level. She married her husband without the knowledge he was homosexual and did not know his secret till she found it out accidentally. After Blanche’s remark to her husband that he was disgusting, he had killed himself in shame for which Blanche blames herself to have caused. Her heart is broken as a result of his death and she has creates an illusion of her innocence to escape the confines of this guilt. She is desperate to find someone whom she can marry to try to evade the uncertainty of remaining single. Blanche feels she needs a stronghold to which she can hang onto to prevent being subjected to uncertainty which she has also experienced in her past. She felt affected by the circumstances of her life and tried to hold onto her husband unknowingly to her that she herself was slipping from a fear of uncertainty in life. She lies to Mitch by saying she lives by “old fashioned ideals” to try to create the impression that she is a suitable bride for him. She creates this imaginary reality of who she is and how she sees herself to win Mitch’s affection. She tries to make herself more presentable by exaggerating that she is of a high class and has “never more than kissed” another man. This imagination of hers is essential to provide her with a sense of security about what she feels and to forget the memories of the past and reject the anticipation of a future that is uncertain. Blanche does this in an attempt to be recognized by Mitch, because she feels affected by the idea of an uncertain future. She chooses not to embrace the constantly changing events of her life and chooses to find certainty and refuge in Mitch. She feels betrayed by the circumstances of her life and that of Stella’s who is being abused by Stanley and thus yearns to avoid imminent consequences. The fear of acquiring an uncertain fate paralyses her ability to think rationally or morally so she resorts to lying to escape from her reality. She uses this same tactic with Shep Huntleigh to whom she often writes to in the hopes of maintaining her illusion of what she is truly like. Blanche’s past relationships have sparked illusions in her mind which make her reject the uncertainty of being single because she feels she is unable to embrace the future.
Blanche resorts to lying on a regular basis in an attempt to create an imaginary reality where she feels safer than looking forward to a life that is unexpected. This is expressed vividly through stage directions which create an atmosphere where Blanche lies and drinks in an attempt to remain in the world she has created for herself. The symbolism of light and darkness in the drama exists to emphasise the idea that Blanche tries to hide from the reality of her unknown future. She tries to hold onto someone who is willing and able to keep her stable and away from uncertainty. While Blanche talks with Mitch, she leaves the room dark and they have a conversation in the darkness while she drinks. It is under this cloak of darkness representing the hidden reality in her mind, she lies about her previous sexual activity and her eligibility as a partner for Mitch. It is under this same shadow of darkness that she tells him that they were “made for each other”. The symbolism of darkness emphasize the fictional world she has created for herself and which she chooses hides under. Blanche’s conversations with Mitch are made under a counterproductive veil of illusion which further reinforce her evasion from a future she cannot control. She constantly tries to win Mitch’s affection by lying to him under the cover of the fictional world she has created in her mind. She tells him that she hasn’t felt love in a long time and she feels that feeling of assuredness and security in the person of Mitch. Blanche constantly does this because she feels the necessity to reject the uncertainty that her future holds. Her imagination causes her to believe that the only way to be redeemed from the thought of uncertainty is by being dependent on Mitch. It is also similar to her behavior and the content of her letters to Shep Huntleigh to whom she attributes an image of a perfect husband. Blanche has this illusion in her mind and it is what causes her to lie to him about her lifestyle by saying she is rich and highly privileged. She believes that by lying to Shep she can achieve security from an anticipation of the future. This is a result of the sorrow and emotional stress from her experience with men because of which she wishes for the fanciful world in her mind where everything is perfect and nothing is unexpected.
Blanche’s past affects the way she views her world and how she interacts with it. She grew up as a rich Southern girl but ends up penniless and losing all of the wealth. Her life is riddled by the unresolved grief of her past relationships and mistakes. Furthermore, she has lost a sense of what the world is like and drinks to forget the reality she is in. This illusion of reality for her is delicate and even the slightest notion against it deeply agonizes her. When Stanley offers her a ticket back to Laurel, she is devastated at the thought of leaving the imaginary life she so deeply holds onto. This expresses the impact of her illusion as she has rejected the uncertainty of a future life which her mind cannot control. Since her mind is dependent on the illusion that she can avoid the uncertain reality, this statement provokes her mental state and emotions. This is further expressed when Stanley reproaches her for lying about Shep waiting for her when she goes back. Blanche’s imagination serves to give her comfort and to make her forget the reality of how her world is crumbling at her feet. Shep is a symbol of security to her and it affects her ability to see reality as her mind is still focused on rejecting the uncertainty of life. After Blanche is raped, the fictional world that Blanche had made up in her mind intensifies. The more she is affected by grief and sorrow, the greater the illusion in her mind of who she is. Blanche tries to hold onto this illusion of her innocence because she does not want to accept an uncertain future which she does not understand. She tells Stella that Shep Huntleigh is coming for her and that she will die with her hand in a doctor’s hand travelling in a cruise. During the doctor’s visit, she finds herself giving into the doctor’s kind words saying she always depended on the “kindness of strangers”. The doctor’s kindness is something she feels her fragile mind can hold onto because it is dependable and she feels secure in it.
Blanche’s past affects her present feelings and emotions in a major way. She is challenged by unresolved guilt of past relationships and bad luck in life. The circumstances of her life affect her emotional stability which results in the creation of a fictional world in her mind where she finds emotional security. Her mind is affected by these illusions to the point her heart breaks when people negate them. Blanche constantly finds hope in the fact that her illusions shield her from the uncertainty of the future which she fears. Blanche’s fictional reality prevents her from seeing the real world and she resorts to lying to ensure others do not see her past and who she really is. “Streetcar Named Desire” effectively portrays how Blanche individuals are affected by their illusions to reject an uncertain future.
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