A Streetcar Named Desire


Tennessee Williams

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Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Streetcar Named Desire, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Icon

The audience of Streeetcar sees both the inside of the Kowalskis’ apartment as well as the street, which emphasizes the tense relationship between what is on the outside and what is on the inside throughout the play. The physical attention to inside versus outside also symbolically demonstrates the complicated relationship between what goes on in the mind versus what occurs in real life. As the play progresses, the split between Blanche’s fantasy world and reality becomes sharper and clearer to every character in the play except Blanche, for whom the interior and exterior worlds become increasingly blurred.

Social and class distinctions also point to the tension between interior and exterior. Blanche is trying to “keep up appearances” in all aspects of her life. She surrounds herself in her silks and rhinestones and fantasies of Shep’s yacht to maintain the appearance of being an upper-class ingénue, even though she is, by all accounts, a “fallen woman.” Blanche also calls Stanley a “Polack” and makes snide remarks about the state of the Kowalski apartment in order to maintain her own sense of external social superiority.

Williams uses music to play with the boundary between the interior and the exterior. The “blue piano” that frequently plays outside evokes tension and fraught emotions inside the apartment. Although the blue piano is a part of the exterior world, it expresses the feelings occurring inside the characters. Blanche sings “Paper Moon” in the bath offstage while, onstage, Stanley reveals to Stella Blanche’s hidden and sordid history. Music also allows the audience to enter Blanche’s head. When she hears the Varsouviana Polka, the audience hears the polka, even though it is only playing in her mind. Just as Blanche’s fantasy blurs into reality, Blanche’s point of view and the perspective of the whole play become blurred.

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Interior and Exterior Appearance ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Interior and Exterior Appearance appears in each scene of A Streetcar Named Desire. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Interior and Exterior Appearance Quotes in A Streetcar Named Desire

Below you will find the important quotes in A Streetcar Named Desire related to the theme of Interior and Exterior Appearance.
Scene 1 Quotes

They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Streetcar
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stella Kowalski
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

Since earliest manhood the center of [Stanley’s] life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it, not with weak indulgence, dependently, but with the power and pride of a richly feathered male bird among hens.

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 2 Quotes

I never met a woman that didn’t know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and some of them give themselves credit for more than they’ve got.

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bathing
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 3 Quotes

The kitchen now suggests that sort of lurid nocturnal brilliance, the raw colors of childhood’s spectrum.

Related Symbols: Shadows
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: Paper Lantern and Paper Moon, Shadows
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 4 Quotes

There are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark–that sort of make everything else seem–unimportant.

Related Characters: Stella Kowalski (speaker), Stanley Kowalski
Related Symbols: Shadows
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 5 Quotes

Young man! Young, young, young man! Has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Prince out of the Arabian Nights?

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: Paper Lantern and Paper Moon
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 7 Quotes

It’s only a paper moon, Just as phony as it can be–But it wouldn’t be make-believe If you believed in me!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bathing, Paper Lantern and Paper Moon
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 9 Quotes

I told you already I don’t want none of his liquor and I mean it. You ought to lay off his liquor. He says you’ve been lapping it up all summer like a wild-cat!

Related Characters: Harold Mitchell (Mitch) (speaker), Blanche DuBois, Stanley Kowalski
Related Symbols: Alcohol and Drunkenness
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

I don’t want realism. I want magic!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: Paper Lantern and Paper Moon
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene 11 Quotes

You left nothing here but spilt talcum and old empty perfume bottles–unless it’s the paper lantern you want to take with you. You want the lantern?

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker), Blanche DuBois
Related Symbols: Paper Lantern and Paper Moon
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

Whoever you are—I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Doctor
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis: