Lord of the Flies

by William Golding

The Hired Girl

Laura Amy Schlitz

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5. Theme 1: The Great Escape

A Streetcar Named Desire and Brave New World both warn about drug useWhen Blanche first arrives at Stella’s meager, two-room apartment, she’s confronted with the reality of her fall. She’s lost her job. She’s lost the family’s ancestral home, Belle Reve. And now Stella’s working-class neighbor, Eunice, is bombarding her with questions about her past, questions Blanche would rather not answer.

So what does she do?

She says she wants to be left alone. Once Eunice leaves the scene, Tennessee Williams’ stage directions take it from there:

“Suddenly she notices something in a half opened closet. She springs up and crosses to it, and removes a whiskey bottle. She pours a half tumbler of whiskey and tosses it down.” 

Escapism. That’s the first of Tennessee Williams’ themes in A Streetcar Named Desire. In a play where fantasy and reality are in constant conflict, Williams has created a character who seeks refuge and rescue in alcohol.


A Streetcar Named Desire Page by Paige 60second Book Review

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Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

You know how, after a bad day, sometimes you just want to check out? Drown your troubles in TV … or sleep? Well, then, you might relate to A Streetcar Named Desire. One of this play’s major themes has to do with escapism.

Blanche DuBois considers herself a victim. She’s been dealt a bad hand—a husband who was gay, and then killed himself; the loss of her family estate; poverty; no new man, and no stability. Granted, Blanche’s story takes place in a time when women had a much harder time taking control of their destinies. But still, what’s Blanche’s response to her run of bad luck?

She escapes into drunkenness, and into a fantasy world of her own fabrication.

Tennessee Williams doesn’t criticize Blanche for this, but he uses his play to explore this theme: The tension between fantasy and reality (and the tragic results of escapism). In A Streetcar Named Desire, fantasy and reality are in constant conflict, but they’re at their worst in the clash between Blanche and Stanley. While Blanche blithely lies about her circumstances and waits for her millionaire prince charming, Stanley does everything he can to bring her crashing down to earth.

In the end, Blanche’s attempts to recreate herself—and her sister—fail in the face of a cruel reality she just can’t escape.


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