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Blanche the Aesthete: A Kierkegaardan Reading of a Streetcar Named Desire

, Razi University, Iran (Islamic Republic Of)

ILSHS Volume 48, ISSN 2300-2697


Tennessee Williams, the modern American dramatist, had his own unique school of dramaturgy. The dramas which he depicted are populated by characters who are lonely, desperate, anxious, alienated, and in one word lost. They face challenges which they may overcome or not, through the choices they make. All these moods and conditions are clearly seen and explained in the theory of existentialism, so Williams’ inspiration from the philosophy is seen. Most existential theorists provide fertile ground to cultivate Williams’ works on. Kierkegaard, as the so-called founder of the philosophy, has a theory which is quite applied to Williams’ dramaturgy that is telling on the life and mentality of the characters in his plays. In his theory Kierkegaard enumerates three levels of existence which are characterized by their own features and mentality: they are respectively: aesthetic, ethical, and religious. The aesthetic is characterized by the pain and pleasure of the moment, that is, the aesthete follows just his/her instincts and desires. The next stage in Kierkegaard’s terminology is the ethical which is characterized by rules, laws, and obligations. The last, but not the least, is the religious stage, however religious not in the conventional and common sense. In Kierkegaard’s terminology religious is closest in meaning to individual. To Kierkegaard, the most authentic character is one who has achieved religiosity; otherwise, he or she may suffer from alienation. The aim of this study is to show how Blanche, the main character in Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire (1974), is essentially an aesthete throughout the paly and how being and staying an aesthete leads to her alienation and destruction.


Abbasi, K. (2015). Blanche the Aesthete: A Kierkegaardan Reading of a Streetcar Named Desire. International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, 48, 180-184. Retrieved July 21, 2019 from .