[A contributor to numerous journals, Mood served as an English professor at Ball State University. In this excerpt, he examines the symbolic nature of Blanche DuBois's entrance dialogue in A Streetcar Named Desire.]
One of the most provocative entrance speeches in drama is the well-known enigmatic statement by Blanche DuBois, the second of Williams' numerous compelling women, in A Streetcar Named Desire:
BLANCHE [with faintly hysterical humor]: They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and then get off at—Elysian Fields!
These words have often been noted and discussed for both their realistic and symbolic significance. They have never been examined, however, as a clue to the structural development and design of the play itself and of the course of the life and fate of Blanche as portrayed in the drama.
The statement can be seen as having two parts, the first of which (“take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries”) deals with the events of Blanche's life before the play opens, and the second of which (“ride six blocks and then get off at—Elysian Fields”) deals with the play itself.
During the course of the play, the audience learns the story of Blanche's life prior to the time of the drama....