Streetcar Named Desire: Ghosts of the Past

8 August 2017

2. “Plays often feature at least one ghost, either on stage or imagined in the form of haunting memories and burdens. ” Discuss this statement with reference to Streetcar. (NOVO 2010 HAL) In the tragedy “Streetcar Named Desire” the author Tennessee Williams brings out a ghost on stage through the haunting memories of Blanches past. The Flaws in Balance which are revealed to the audience by Stanley are rather shocking. It is revealed that Balance began to take part in cheap forms of entertainment at a hotel called Flamingo.

According to Stanley the Flamingo did not mind these their guests asking part in these kinds of entertainment, although the management at the Flamingo was forced into throwing Balance out as she had made quite a reputation of herself. The audience is further made aware of Blanches horrific reputation when Stanley mentions that she had been fired from school as she had gotten into an affair with a 17 year old. Even soldiers were asked to stay away from Balance. Her reputation was so famous that the mayor of Laurel had asked her to leave.

Streetcar Named Desire: Ghosts of the Past Essay Example

Balance had nowhere else to go and that was the reason she showed up unannounced at Stella and Stanley house in Elysian Fields. These haunting memories of Blanches past are ironically revealed to the audience when she is taking a shower. Throughout the play Balance spends a lot of time in the shower, this is because the wants to symbolically cleanse herself of her haunting past and all the horrible things she had done in order to survive after losing her property, Belle Reeve.

While Stanley is narrating the horrible truths to Stella about Blanches past, Balance is happily singing mystical and a fiction song with “cardboard seas” and “paper moons”. She believes that the only way she can get out of this situation is if she is helped by another man. She believes that Mitch can be this man. The line of the song “It wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me” which is consentingly being repeated tells us that Balance wanted Mitch to believe all her lies.

Balance knew that if Mitch finds out the details about her past they would not be able to be together. If Mitch believes all her lies they can live happily together. Another key aspect about Blanches past which haunts her right through the play is the death of her former husband, Allan. Allan was a homosexual, at that time homosexuality was strictly forbidden and frowned upon by society. Balance is haunted by the memory Allan as she feels responsible for Élan’s death. Balance had caught Allan with another man.

When she confronted him they were dancing to the variations which is a type of polish music. She said “I saw! I know! You disgust me… ” At that time this was a very appropriate reaction to have against homosexuals. Allan could not stand the humiliation of Balance knowing about his homosexuality so he committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. Balance keeps on reliving this incident. This is brought out very clearly when she is having a conversation with Mitch. Balance hears the variations and tells Mitch, although he cannot hear anything and says “What music? . Showing that this is only going on in Blanches head. Balance goes onto saying that the music stops once the gunshot is fired. The author very cleverly uses sound and music throughout the play as a part to stagecraft to symbolize various things. The variations symbolisms Blanches guilt and the reference to Allan. Preceding to this a gunshot is heard and the variations dies out. Over here the reader can see Balance being haunted by past memories of Allan and her own actions.

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