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Psychoanalysis of A Streetcar Named Desire

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Alison Nadeau

on 24 March 2015

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Transcript of Psychoanalysis of A Streetcar Named Desire

Psychological Analysis of A Streetcar Named Desire
Investigating what drives each character in Tennessee Williams' drama
A Streetcar Named Desire
and how the playwright is connected to his Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Analyzing Blanche
Connections to Williams' own life in Streetcar
Father was an alcoholic
Mother was a southern belle
Sister suffered from schizophrenia
Williams himself was an abuser of drugs & alcohol
His romantic partner left him for a woman and died very young, leaving him emotionally scarred
Went on to have affairs with other men
Suffered from a nervous breakdown
Continued to abuse alcohol and drugs until his death (drug overdose)

Each of the three main characters in
A Streetcar Named Desire
correspond with one of the three parts of the human psyche.
Like the superego, Blanche has internalized
a sense of morality based on social standards,
and feels guilty and invalidated when she falls
short of these standards
Her preoccupation with her outward appearance and her need for male validation emphasize the importance she places on the way she is viewed
by society
Like the id, Stanley expects instant gratification for all of his desires, and pays little to no attention to the potential consequences of his actions when trying to achieve these desires.
When his desires are not met, he resorts to animalistic physical aggression and violence to get what he wants.
Physical abuses Stella
"Hiyuh, Blanche [
he grins at her]
"'This morning he gave me ten dollars to smooth things over"' (pg.68)
Like the ego, Stella often serves as a mediator between the id (Stanley) and the the moral and social codes of the superego (Blanche).
"I was sort of thrilled by it." (pg.64)
"It makes me so mad when he does that in front of people." (pg. 50)
"Put it over the light bulb! Will you please?" (pg. 55)
[A locomotive is heard approaching outside. She claps her hands to her ears and crouches over
" (pg.95)
"You've given in. And that isn't right, you're not old! You can get out." (pg.65)
Throughout the play, Blanche struggles to balance her id and superego.
Blanche's desire for male validation as a result of her past causes her to act irrationally, thus proving that she can sometimes be entirely controlled by her id
Although she sometimes allows the id to control her, Blanche's need for validation also forces her to be controlled by the superego. Her constant efforts to hide her imperfections and become someone she is not in order to conform to society's expectations of a woman show that she is trying to balance the desires of her id with the propriety of her superego.
Blanche's conflicted behavior around men is a result of her attempt to balance her desire for validation -- which allows her to momentarily forget the pain of her past -- and her need to seem proper & meet society's expectations of what she should be.
Stella finds herself caught between Stanley's primal aggression and Blanche's moral superiority, and spends the majority of her time trying to balance them.
In addition to balancing the id and the superego, Stella is often torn between her id, or desire to be with Stanley because of his primal nature, and her superego, or her need to fit into society's narrow box of right and wrong.
Alison Nadeau, Jasmine Pereira, Brandon Areias, Brandon Ledoux
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