Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Essay: Drugs and Alcohol in A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire is a famous play written by American playwright Tennessee Williams in 1947. The author was awarded with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. A Streetcar Named Desire is supposed to be one of the best plays of the 20th century. It provided Tennessee Williams with the international face. What do you think about the plot of this play? Have you noticed the problem of drug and alcohol abuse there? When you read A Streetcar Named Desire, you notice a great number of words and expressions related with alcohol and drugs. I want to analyze the effect of drug and alcohol abuse on the characters of this play.

It is possible to observe the problem of alcohol abuse on the example of the main characters of the play. We can notice that Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski are closely connected with alcohol. However, the effect of alcohol on these characters is different.

Firstly, I will write about Stanley Kowalski. In my opinion, he was a typical man of the first part of the 20th century. At that time, common men were described as brutal, aggressive and rude people who enjoyed drinking beer or whiskey after work. Alcohol played important role for the people of his circle. We know that he enjoyed playing poker.

Doubtless, such poker parties were always accompanied with alcohol. Tennessee Williams described a dramatic situation with the participation of Stanley Kowalski. When Stanley got drunk, he became violent and struck his pregnant wife Stella. We can see that his alcoholism is associated with physical aggression. It is possible to say that Stanley drinks alcohol, because it is a norm for an average man of that time. Blanche DuBois called him as a subhuman animal, because she could not understand how a man could strike a woman. Moreover, she did not understand why Stella went back to Stanley after that violent scene.

The relation of Blanche towards alcohol is more interesting. She does not consume alcohol, because she enjoys its taste. She wants to escape from the sad reality and everyday problems. When Blanche first appeared at her sister’s home, she began to drink. We realize that she drank regularly. This character appeared with a bottle or glass of alcohol frequently. Naturally, at that time, it was bad for a woman to drink a lot. Women were supposed to drink little; therefore, they had to hide this habit from others. In my opinion, Blanche had solid reasons for drinking. We discover that her young husband had a sexual affair with the older man. Then, he committed a suicide. Naturally, it was a shock for the young widow. Blanche had other secrets. For example, she lost her teaching job, because she had a sexual affair with a student. Moreover, she lived in the house for prostitutes. This information was astonishing to other people; therefore, she tried to keep it as a secret. Obviously, it is difficult to have a burden of the previous years of life. She could not share these facts with anyone and they oppressed her. The most common solution of such delicate problems is alcohol. Blanche drank frequently in order to improve her mood and forget about her past. We know that in the end she practically lost her mind, because her past ruined her future with Mitch.

I should say that Blanche’s drinking differs from Stanley’s drinking. Stanley is a typical brutal man who get used to drinking. Unfortunately, he becomes aggressive when he is drunk. Blanche drinks to escape from the fears of her past. However, this remedy is ineffective. She had a serious mental breakdown and had to go to a mental hospital. A Streetcar Named Desire is a great play, which reveals the peculiarities of the human character in detail. The author managed to observe the problem of drug and alcohol abuse perfectly.

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