Psychology, Archetypes, and Desire

         The 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams and filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan, is a well-known psychological drama. Throughout the play/movie the main character, Blanche (Vivien Leigh), stays with her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), and her brother-in-law, Stanley (Marlon Brando).

         Through she acts odd, the sister tolerates her and seems to understand her. The husband, however, is of a different mind. He is belligerent, somewhat of an alcoholic, and abusive. From the very start, he is suspicious of his new found sister-in-law. He digs into her past and asks questions of anyone who would know anything about her. The characters in this work are difficult to label as archetypes. If you would label them, they would perhaps hold more than just one archetype.

         Psychologically, this was definitely a groundbreaking work of art. Not many theatrical plays include such a mix of suspense, intrigue, and mystery. The audience is left to wonder for the majority of the time about the main character's past and what is was exactly that has caused her insanity and what were the events that have led up to it. What has happened to her family and to her personally to bring on such a violent change? Did she just stop fighting against the desperation that she was in? Was she the victim or the aggressor in her own case of dementia?

         The commotion that was caused by this play and its cinematic counterpart still has its repercussions today. Textbooks often refer to it as an example of a psychological thriller and good writing.

Mary Moffitt

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