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truthin streetcar

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  • 1. Pham 1 Chau Pham Mr. Kumin English III Honors 7 June 2010 How is the truth revealed in Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire?” Stanley, Stella, Blanche and the Truth The truth is mutating, subjective in Streetcar, with each of the principals having a different relationship with the idea of “truth.” Stanley Kowalski is straightforward to the point of crudity while Blanche very much denies realism. Stella, on the other hand, recognizes the truth but tries to stay away from getting hurt by the harsh reality. Tennessee Williams, in A Streetcar Named Desire, expresses these characters’ relationship with truth through their perspectives on the past and on the truth itself. Stanley is the only character in the play who views truth as an indispensible part of his life. He is simple and honest; his conversations are curt and true. With such manner, he demanded on knowing the reality of Blanche’s past. He is so obsessed with truth that he goes to any lengths to obtain the truth, regardless of his wife and her sister’s feelings. Stanley also uses the truth about Blanche’s past to crush her emotions and force her to leave. Unlike Stanley, Stella refuses to believe what her husband says about Blanche’s corrupt past. She somehow recognizes certain truths in Stanley’s account; but she is not willing to accept the cruelty it brings to her. Stella knows that admitting those ‘rumors’ parallels with seeing her own sister as an indecent person. The truth about Blanche’s past is so overwhelming for her to handle that Stella chooses not to confront with but to deny it. She protests: “What—contemptible—lies!” (Williams 7.120) In denying every account Stanley gives to her, Stella shows her desperate attempt to run away
  • 2. Pham 2 from facing the hurtful and unkind truth. Blanche maintains a different relationship with truth. To her, realism does not exist. She lives, or at least imagines living, in a magical world in which there are no truths present, only fantasy. She is never honest but tells lies to conceal her past. After the death of her husband, Blanche lives in the illusions she created and tries to fulfill her ideals. Like Stanley, Blanche manipulates the truth, but to deceive people. She covers the light bulb with a lantern to hide her age and when asked she says she only tells what “ought to be true.” In other word, Blanche is in total control of her past that she can manipulate it in whatever way she wants. Yet Stanley is there to confront her and willing to crush all the illusions she has created. By expressing his characters’ conflicting relationship with truth, Williams has created a dynamic play where the principals are constantly forced to interact, confront, avoid or driven by the seemingly static truth. The conflicts among the characters’ views on the truth and their past play a crucial role on the plot development of the narrative. At the beginning of the play, readers are introduced to a sensitive, fragile woman who almost seems like she has just walked out from a different world. They then watch her being on total control of what she would like people to see her, through her trickeries and deceits. Yet when her past is revealed, the audiences begin to sympathize with a victim of the brutal society. Through his characters’ relationships with truth, Williams presents a world in which the truth can be the center of human conflicts and values.
  • 3. Pham 3 Work Cited Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: New Directions, 2004.