Due to Tennessee Williams's unique style of writing and use of symbolism, there is much room for individual interpretation in it's theme and meaning. Because of this, many writers have presented their views of the work in critical essays and books. One of these such authors is Leonard Quirino in his essay, 'The Cards Indicate a Voyage on A Streetcar Named Desire.' Quirino remarks that the recurring theme of the poker game is a strong symbol in the play. Quirino states: '...Much of the verbal and theatrical imagery that constitutes the drama is drawn from games, chance and luck. ...Two of the most crucial scenes are presented within the framework of poker games played onstage. Indeed, the ...view middle of the document...
' (Quirino, 62)
Quirino's view of the symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire is insightful and interesting. The idea of the poker game being a microcosm of the conflict of the entire play is not one that all critics and readers would agree with. One other critical view on A Streetcar Named Desire, that of Alvin B. Kernan, deals with Williams's interpretation of reality within the play. The theme of reality vs. fantasy is one that the play centers around. In 'Truth and Dramatic Mode in A Streetcar Named Desire,' Kernan says: 'In each of his plays, Williams poises the human need for belief in human value and dignity against a brutal, naturalistic reality; similarly, symbolism is poised against realism. But where the earlier playwrights were able to concentrate on human values, Williams has been unable to do so because of his conviction that there is a 'real' world outside and inside each of us which is actively hostile to any belief in the goodness of man and the validity of moral values. His realism gives expression to this aspect of the world, and A Streetcar Named Desire is his clearest treatment of the human dilemma which entails the dramatic dilemma. We are presented in Streetcar with two polar ways of looking at experience: the realistic view of Stanley Kowalski and the 'non-realistic' view of his sister-in-law, Blanche DuBois. Williams brings the two views into conflict immediately.' (Kernan, 9)
Kernan's idea of the conflict between Stanley and Blanche acting as a messenger of the conflict between reality and fantasy is one that the reader sees quite clearly in the play. Critical interpretations of books like A Streetcar Named Desire not only help the reader to better understand what the author is trying to say in the work, but also provide the reader with many other stimulating points of view on the work.
In conclusion, the reader of A Streetcar Named Desire is not only entertained by an interesting story when he reads the play. He is also thrust into a reality which is not his own, yet somehow seems familiar. This realistic fantasy Williams creates with his brilliant use of symbolism, intriguing characters, and involving action in the play causes the reader to connect fully with the setting, characters, conflicts, and emotions within it.
INTRODUCTION TO THE PLAY
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) first opened in the winter of 1947. The plot revolves around a flamboyant yet fragile and aristocratic southern woman in her late twenties, named Blanche Dubois. In the beginning of the play she arrives at the home of her younger sister Stella and sister's husband Stanley Kowalski in a neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter in New Orleans.
There really was a streetcar named Desire.
As Blanche tries to find love and hope while hiding her personal downfalls and tragic memories, she increasingly interferes in the relationship between Stella and Stanley, magnifying their own conflicts...