A Streetcar Named Desire

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Paper Lantern and Paper Moon Symbol Analysis

Paper Lantern and Paper Moon Symbol Icon
The paper lantern over the light bulb represents Blanche’s attempt to mask both her sordid past and her present appearance. The lantern diffuses the stark light, but it’s only a temporary solution that can be ripped off at any moment. Mitch hangs up the lantern, and Blanche is able to maintain her pose of the naïve Southern belle with him, but it is only a façade. After Stanley has told Mitch about Blanche’s past, Mitch angrily tears the lantern off so he can see Blanche’s face, and she cries, “I don’t want realism––I want magic!” At the end of the play, Stanley takes off the paper lantern and presents it to Blanche. A paper world cloaking reality also appears in the song “Paper Moon.” While Stanley tells Stella about Blanche’s sordid history, Blanche sings this saccharine popular song about a paper world that becomes a reality through love. Blanche feigns modesty and a coquettish nature, but behind the veneer, she hides a much darker past.
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Paper Lantern and Paper Moon Symbol Timeline in A Streetcar Named Desire

The timeline below shows where the symbol Paper Lantern and Paper Moon appears in A Streetcar Named Desire. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene 3
Sexual Desire Theme Icon
Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Icon
Femininity and Dependence Theme Icon
...sonnet. Blanche claims to be younger than Stella, and she asks Mitch to hang a Chinese lantern over the naked electric bulb. Stanley, in the kitchen, seethes at Mitch’s absence from the... (full context)
Scene 5
Fantasy and Delusion Theme Icon
Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Icon
Femininity and Dependence Theme Icon
...cope properly with the loss of Belle Reve, and she cloaked herself in half-shadows and Chinese lantern s to make herself attractive. (full context)
Scene 7
Fantasy and Delusion Theme Icon
Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Icon
...soothe her nerves, which Stanley mocks. Throughout the scene, Blanche’s singing of the popular song “Paper Moon” is heard in counterpoint to Stella and Stanley’s conversation. (full context)
Scene 9
Sexual Desire Theme Icon
Fantasy and Delusion Theme Icon
Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Icon
...that he’s never seen Blanche in the daytime or in the light. He rips the paper lantern off the light bulb. Blanche gasps, crying, “I don’t want realism. I want magic!” (full context)
Scene 10
Sexual Desire Theme Icon
Fantasy and Delusion Theme Icon
Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Icon
Masculinity and Physicality Theme Icon
Femininity and Dependence Theme Icon
...attire, saying that he’s been on to her from the start: powders and perfumes and paper lantern s couldn’t fool him. Lurid, grotesque shadows and reflections on the wall surround Blanche. (full context)
Scene 11
Fantasy and Delusion Theme Icon
Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Icon
Masculinity and Physicality Theme Icon
Femininity and Dependence Theme Icon
Stanley says that the only thing Blanche could have forgotten is the paper lantern . He rips it off the bare bulb and holds it out to her. Blanche... (full context)