“A Streetcar Named Desire” is a classic of American theater. The play was written by Tennessee Williams, and has earned him the Pulitzer Prize and success on Broadway. The play was named after the streetcar that brought the protagonist Blanche DuBois to her sister’s house.
Short Overview of the Play
Blanche DuBois is a fragile and aristocratic woman who lives in a world of romantic illusions. After a series of losses of loved ones, heavy living compromises, and pain-numbing experiences with strangers, she comes to New Orleans to her younger sister Stella with a desire to rebuild life. But here she has found no rest, and to compound it, meets an irreconcilable enemy – Stanley Kowalski. Their unavoidable confrontation, Blanche’s alcohol dependence, and Stanley’s growing aggression end in the most tragic way.
When Blanche arrived, she dropped a remark: “They told me to take a streetcar named ‘Desire,’ and then transfer to one called ‘Cemeteries.’” This quote hides the meaning of the play’s title: it is desire that leads the shattered woman into the grave. All her life she was driven by inner impulses and aspirations, ignoring the realities of the surrounding world. It is in her nature to choose “desire,” even if it leads to the cemetery.
What to Do Before You Start Writing Your Paper
- Jot down any interesting/important quotes that you might want to use in your paper.
- Find the quotes that characterize the main characters. For example: “Stanley carries his bowling jacket and a red-stained package from a butcher’s.” You can notice how Williams focuses on certain details to highlight Stanley’s primitive masculinity.
- Always pay attention to the symbolism. For example: what do the names of the neighborhoods “Desire” and “Cemeteries” represent?
- Notice how genders interact with each other.
- Analyze the main themes of the play.
- Pay close attention to how reality and illusion manifest throughout the play, especially in the final scenes. Blanche can’t deal with reality and mentally escapes it, while Stella doesn’t accept the real events and ignores Blanche’s story about Stanley.
- Think about the main message that the author wanted to send the audience.
No matter whether you enjoyed reading the book or not, picking a good topic for the essay may be a real pain. To help you, we have created a list of “A Streetcar Named Desire” paper topics that you can check below.
A Streetcar Named Desire Essay Topics: Compare and Contrast
- Compare and contrast the characters of Macbeth and Stanley Kowalski and how the authors contribute to the common canon of literature.
- Compare and contrast two books: “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- Compare the two plays “A Doll’s House” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” in the context of patriarchal ideology.
- Compare and contrast “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” in the context of women’s rights and freedoms.
- Compare the representation of masculinity in the movies “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Saturday Night Fever.”
- Compare and contrast two characters from “Death of a Salesman” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- Compare “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in the context of representing insanity and reality.
- Compare “Enduring Love” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” in the context of the meaning of love.
- Compare and contrast “The Great Gatsby” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” in the context of depicting desire as a destructive feeling.
- Analyze how love is depicted in “Othello” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
A Streetcar Named Desire Discussion Topics: Gender Issues
- Compare and contrast the opportunities for female characters in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Do women seek for independence and individualism? Do male characters show dominance?
- What were common societal expectations of women in the time when the play “A Streetcar Named Desire” was written?
- Describe the strong dependence of women on men in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Why have the women behaved in this way?
- Describe how caricatures of masculinity and femininity are expressed through the characters of Stella DuBois and Stanley Kowalski.
- What ideas of gender issues does Tennessee Williams try to convey to the reader?
- Can Stanley be named as the ideal of American masculinity? Or is this ideal represented by Mitch? Why?
- Discuss how the conflict between the past and present values is expressed in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- Analyze the relationship between Stanley and his wife Stella. Why has an abused woman stayed with her abuser?
- Analyze the role of masculinity in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- Compare and contrast the film “Pretty Woman” and the play “A Streetcar Named Desire” in the context of changing attitudes towards women.
A Streetcar Named Desire Research Topics: Analysis of the Plot
- What changes were made to the play’s plot for the screen adaptation of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1951? Why were these changes made, and how do they contribute to the overall plot?
- What is the difference between the theatrical performance of “A Streetcar Named Desire” and its screen adaptation?
- Discuss the meaning of morality and immorality in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- Analyze Stanley’s character in the context of an animalistic approach.
- Describe the symbol of the streetcar in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- Analyze the conflict of values in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- How is the idea of naturalism presented in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”? Are the setting and characters realistic?
- Describe the dangers of desire in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- What message does the writer try to convey in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”?
- Describe your favorite scene from the play “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Why is it your favorite?
- How is the theme of class difference portrayed in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”?
- What elements of Southern fiction are presented in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”? How are they expressed in the play?
- How is marriage represented in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”?
- What role does sexuality play in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”?
- Describe the themes of madness and mortality in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- Imagine that you will be staging a version of the play “A Streetcar Named Desire” in a local theater. What will be the overall concept? Who will be the best cast for the main characters? Think about setting, light, music, and costumes.
- Discuss sexual desire as the prerequisite of love, and at the same time, as the destroyer of love.
- What literary techniques does Tennessee Williams use to enhance themes in “A Streetcar Named Desire”?
- What is unique about Tennessee Williams’ word choice?
- What is the symbolic meaning of the shattered mirror?
Paper Topics for “A Streetcar Named Desire”: Characters
- What role does fantasy play in the Blanche’s life? Why doesn’t fantasy help her overcome the reality?
- Discuss how Blanche’s truth and lies have influenced her life.
- How do alcohol and drugs influence the main characters?
- Analyze the desires of the following characters from the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”: Blanche, Stanley, Stella, and Mitch.
- Why are Blanche and Stella attracted to each other despite their conflicts? What is the nature of this attraction?
- Analyze the character of Blanche DuBois. Why has she failed in the end of the story?
- Analyze the role Stella played in the relationships between Blanche and Stanley.
- Analyze the character of Mitch in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” How has your impression changed by the end of the play?
- What secrets from the past does Blanche hide? How do they influence her life?
- Why does Blanche DuBois make readers sympathize with her? Why can she be justified?
- Why does Blanche try to escape the reality? How has the reality destroyed her fantasy?
- Analyze the symbolism of poker references in “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- How does the desire help and destroy particular characters in “A Streetcar Named Desire”?
- Analyze how the refusal to change affects the life of a particular character in the play “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
- How could other people behave who face the same situation as the main characters of “A Streetcar Named Desire”? Is the ending of the play predictable?
Main Themes Discussed in the Play
When you write a paper, your task is not only to know all the characters and the plot of the play but also to analyze its themes. To make the assignment more manageable, here is a list of A Streetcar Named Desire themes. You will find a specific message of the author behind each of these themes. In your paper, you can focus on all of them or choose the one that inspires you the most.
Sexuality and desire. It is an evident and logical theme for a play that explores the relationships between men and women. At the beginning of the play, Blanche declares that the only way to smooth things over with Stanley is to flirt with him. She often uses the same approach to attract men’s attention and seek their appreciation. From a psychological point of view, Blanche needs to get positive reactions from men to heal the wounds resulting from the realization that her first husband was homosexual.
The dynamics of the relationships between Stella and Stanley are all about sexual tension. Even though there is a lot of violence between them, Stella does not leave her husband. Desire has a strong correlation with destruction in this play. You can link this idea to the way our society uses sexuality in the present.
Masculinity and femininity. Stanley is the main character that represents brutal masculinity. He has none of the characteristics of a gentleman. However, women find his aggressiveness and animal magnetism attractive. He is rude, violent, frightening, and self-centered. Mitch represents another kind of masculinity. He is not as frightening and aggressive. However, he still symbolizes physical strength.
As to femininity in this play, Blanche and Stella seem to rely on men more than on themselves. They can’t imagine their lives without marriage. According to their beliefs, only men can bring happiness to their lives. You can try to explore the way femininity and masculinity are represented today. Alternatively, you can compare the play to a modern drama and analyze the differences and similarities.
Who people are on the inside and the outside. Stella and Blanche try to seem more than they are. Their social statuses are more vital to them than their real emotions. Blanche tries to create an illusion that she belongs to an upper-class society. Stella worries that their apartment does not look how it should look to demonstrate a higher social status.
The author also draws the audience’s attention to the difference between interior and exterior appearance by showing the apartment and the street. You can also focus on how the outside world influences everything that happens inside the apartment. For instance, the sounds of the blue piano playing outside often create tension in the apartment. It is enlightening to examine how people act to get the desired reaction from the outside world and how they act when no one is watching.
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If you have read our list of “A Streetcar Named Desire” research topics, you are almost ready to start writing! Just pick the topic that you liked the most and get writing. You can modify the topic according to your assignment’s requirements: for example, making it broader or more specific. The listed topics are here to give you some writing ideas and to help you boost your creativity.
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