A Streetcar Named Desire


Tennessee Williams

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The Streetcar

Williams called the streetcar the “ideal metaphor for the human condition.” The play’s title refers not only to a real streetcar line in New Orleans but also symbolically to the power of desire as the… (read full symbol analysis)

Varsouviana Polka

Blanche associates the polka with her young husband’s suicide. Blanche and her husband were dancing the polka when she lashed out at him for his homosexual behavior, and he left the dance floor and shot… (read full symbol analysis)


Blanche takes frequent baths throughout the play to “soothe her nerves.” Bathing is an escape from the sweaty apartment: rather than confront her physical body in the light of day, Blanche retreats to the water… (read full symbol analysis)

Paper Lantern and Paper Moon

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… (read full symbol analysis)

Alcohol and Drunkenness

Both Stanley and Blanche drink frequently throughout the play. When Stanley gets drunk, his masculinity becomes exaggerated: he grows increasingly physical, violent, and brutal. Stanley makes a show of drinking, swaggering and openly pouring himself… (read full symbol analysis)

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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… (read full symbol analysis)