Many – stating that “A woman’s charm

Many techniques can be used by authors to strengthen a literary theme. Symbolism is heavily used in A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Williams. Symbolism bolsters the theme that appearances can be deceiving. Consistently throughout the play, there is a contrast between reality and illusion, symbolized by a light bulb and its lampshade. Williams uses the symbol of light and dark in connection with Stanley and Blanche to support this theme.
The character Blanche is connected strongly to the motif of light and darkness. She dresses in white, the embodiment of purity and innocence. She is refined, proper, and delicate – yet playful in her mannerisms. She is very intelligent and opposed to vulgarity. Blanche prefers to live behind an illusion and doesn´t always tell the truth – stating that “A woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion.” – as if living outside of reality. Blanche? connection to the play’s motif is that she makes a big deal out of being seen in plain light. She always make a conscious effort to keep a lampshade over the naked bulb in the Kowalski apartment, in order to dim the room and effectively hide herself. Nobody can get a good look at her. This is evident in Mitch’s statement “…I’ve never had a real good look at you…Let’s turn the light on.” Blanche doesn’t want to be seen in direct light because she is self-conscious of her appearance. Throughout the play, Blanche fibs about her age and innocence – claiming to be younger than her sister Stella. Blanche fears she is ¨past her prime¨, and by living in illusions and staying out of direct light, Blanche can hide things such as her real age and appearance allowing her to remain an attractive young woman. Blanche openly states in a conversation with Mitch; “I don’t want realism, I want magic!”, meaning she doesn’t want to see things how they are, but how she wants them to be. The ¨darkness¨ in the Kowalski apartment is symbolic of Blanche´s preferred existence. Blanche feels that in order for someone to like her, she has to mold and transform herself to their liking. She tells Mitch; “I’m very adaptable – to circumstances.”, furthering the idea that Blanche is more than willing to change how she is in order to be liked and accepted. Like the light bulb, she is soft and glowing, but vulnerable and fragile without the lampshade. Blanche is the light bulb, and wishes to be covered with a lampshade to hide her raw self. When Blanche takes the lampshade from Stanley as she is leaving, she screams as though she sees her reflection in the lampshade. The lampshade is a material object and when it becomes obsolete or is taken away, all that is left is a naked, boring bulb, just as Blanche is left as a worn down, aging widow.
Another meaning to the lights could be connected to Blanche’s former husband. When talking to Mitch, Blanche describes her experience with falling in love as “suddenly turning a blinding light on something that has always been half in the shadow…”. When Blanche caught her husband with another man, which eventually lead to his suicide, she says “the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that’s stronger than this—kitchen—candle…”. In summary, being in love illuminated Blanche’s world for her, and when her husband died, she was forced back into the darkness. From this, it can be interpreted that covering the harsh light isn’t strictly about blocking Blanche from the reality of the world, but blocking the world from Blanche’s eyes. Blanche doesn’t want to see it – she doesn’t want to deal with reality.
Another meaning to the lights could be connected to Blanche’s former husband. When talking to Mitch, Blanche describes her experience with falling in love as “suddenly turning a blinding light on something that has always been half in the shadow…”. When Blanche caught her husband with another man, which eventually lead to his suicide, she says “the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that’s stronger than this—kitchen—candle…”. In summary, being in love illuminated Blanche’s world for her, and when her husband died, she was forced back into the darkness. From this, it can be interpreted that covering the harsh light isn’t strictly about blocking Blanche from the reality of the world, but blocking the world from Blanche’s eyes. Blanche doesn’t want to see it – she doesn’t want to deal with reality.

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