While it can be argued that all of the characters in Tennese Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire are living in an illusion, I do not think that all the characters are living an unreal existence, however some are, in particular Blanche, Stella and Stanley.
Blanch, to some extent, is living in her own fantasy world plagued with delusions and outbursts. It is quite obvious that she is living an illusion. Stella is living an unreal existence in regards to the way in which she likes to pretend she is living in a happy home. Stanley is also, however to a much lesser extent, living an unreal existence. He is very self-centered and towards the end he seems to be living a life nearly devoted to breaking down Blanche. We can see why and in what way these characters are living an unreal existence through exploring the major themes of this play and their relation to the characters in regards to living in a world that is not reality. These themes include reality versus illusion, confronting reality, male domination and truth versus lies.
Reality versus illusion is one of, if not the major theme of the play. It also has the most relevance to the way in which Blanche, Stanley, and Stella are living in their own fantasy world. Perhaps the reason Blanche chose illusion rather than reality is because of her somewhat troubled past. When Blanche was 16 she married Alan who was 17. The impression we get of Alan is that of an attractive, gentle and kind young man. However, he had a somewhat feminine quality about him. Blanche soon finds out that he is involved in a homosexual relationship by catching him in the act. Blanche expresses her disgust and soon after Alan commits suicide by shooting himself. Already traumatized, the situation grew quickly worse when Blanche looses Belle Reve, the family estate. This proves only to worsen Blanche’s mental state to an all new low. This coupled with other events led Blanche to living with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley. Perhaps the events which had occurred led her to the edge of insanity which she was resting on during her time living with Stanley and Stella. It was easier for her to create her own fantasy world rather than to face up to reality. This however proved to have dire consequences resulting in Blanch becoming even further away from reality, pushed over the edge by Stanley’s constant harassment and finally by his ultimate act of indecency raping her. This climaxed with Blanch having to be taken to a mental institution, this decision backed by even her own sister Stella.
While living a much more real existence Stella also in some situations chooses illusions rather than accept reality. This can be seen when Blanch chooses to believe Stanley rather than Blanch in regards to the rape. Despite heavy suspicions that Stanley did rape Blanch, she gives Stanley the benefit of the doubt simply because it is easier that way. Like Blanch in this situation she chooses illusion rather than to except reality. Despite this, Stella is much more in tune with reality than her sister Blanch.
Stanley, while not exactly living in his own fantasy world, does have certain elements of choosing illusion rather than reality. Rather than create illusions he simply ignores things which may not please him. He seems to be living in a bubble which inside only holds a section for his poker buddies, Stella and the cracking down of Blanche. He is somewhat obsessed with being the head of his home and so when Blanche comes to stay with him and Stella he obviously feels threatened by the way in which she changes things. The cracking down of Blanche becomes an obsession, it is almost as if he has to prove himself as the head.
Blanche and Stella find it hard to confront the reality in which they live. Perhaps this is because they are not living the lives which they had planned when they lived in Belle Reve. Blanche in particular finds it difficult to accept the fact that she is aging and that things aren’t turning out exactly to