Examine the view that “‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is not only the story of a desperate woman, but of a culture in the state of crisis”.

Indeed, Blanche DuBois is a woman in desperation. The initial monologue, ‘I, I, I took the blows’ conveys a gritty, realistic tone as Blanche has witnessed the death of those around her and now has nowhere else to turn, “death is expensive, Miss Stella!” Moreover, there are numerous references to Blanche’s nerves, “the glass, which shakes in her hand” and “my nerves broke”. The use of dialogue and stage direction to illustrate Blanche’s nervous disposition explicitly and implicitly portray the mental fragility of Blanche. Yet, the audience must question where this fragility stems from, and a plausible answer to this is the death of the ante-bellum, confederate South. Two of the most prevalent motifs in the play are Blanche’s age, and her dislike of being exposed to light. Although these appear to be personal indications of desperation, Williams also uses them to express the crisis of the Southern culture. Blanche describes her appearance to be that of a daisy that has been “picked a few days”. This natural imagery conveys the unstoppable process of aging, and how it is affecting the superficial Blanche. Furthermore, this refers to the culture of the Deep South which is inevitably aging and decaying. Additionally, Williams presents Blanche who is extremely adverse to being in any strong light; “I can’t stand a naked light bulb”. The reference to light not only implies that Blanche herself feels more comfortable in the dark because she cannot address the truths of her past; it also illustrates how the Deep South has been put into crisis by the world judging their values and attitudes, as their defeat in the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery being forced upon them.Notably, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is certainly a story of a woman in desperation. However, this desperation stems from crisis of her culture, as the conservative attitudes of the Deep South are no longer accepted in the modern world. Williams explores this crisis of culture via binary opposites throughout the play: men and women; old and new and reality and fantasy. Yet, Blanche DuBois is a resilient character who, despite her desperation, will fight for survival in the face of her cultural crisis. 

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