A Streetcar Named Desire

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Shadows Symbol Icon
Shadows represent the dream-world and the escape from the light of day. Initially, Blanche seeks the refuge of shadows and half-light to hide from the harsh facts of the real world. When Blanche first sees Stella, she insists that Stella turn the overhead light off: “I don’t want to be looked at in this merciless glare!” But at the end of the play, shadows become menacing to Blanche. When Stanley approaches Blanche to rape her, his shadows overtake hers on the wall before he physically overpowers her. In the play’s final scene, when the Doctor and Matron come to escort Blanche to the asylum, shadows contribute to the jungle-like, mad atmosphere. Rather than representing a longed-for escape from reality, shadows become a threatening element.
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Shadows Symbol Timeline in A Streetcar Named Desire

The timeline below shows where the symbol Shadows appears in A Streetcar Named Desire. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
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
...her from the start: powders and perfumes and paper lanterns 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
...her way. She rushes past him, claiming that she has forgotten something. Lurid reflections and shadows appear on the walls again, and the polka music plays distortedly, accompanied by noises of... (full context)