Running From the Past as Described in the Plays A Streetcar Named Desire and Babylon Revisted
Running from the Past
The theme of running from the past is prevalent in both plays A Streetcar Named Desire and Babylon Revisited. Charlie Wales the protagonist in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Babylon Revisited is a recovered alcoholic that lived fast and hard before the depression hit. Charlie is faced with his reckless past when he goes to regain custody of his daughter Honoria in Paris, his old playground. Blanche DuBois is also running from her past in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire, she lived a sexually perspicuous life, and after she looses the family home she goes to live with her sister Stella and her Husband Stanley Kowalski in New Orleans. Blanche tries to reinvent herself with lies, and illusions, but her past catches up with her as well. Both characters face major guilt from their past actions, and are there fore can not ever escape the consequences of their past.
Charlie is a far more sane character than Blanche but is not without his problems. It is not clear how his wife Helen has died but that Charlie carries some guilt for it. Charlie expresses his feelings of his past again the memory of those days swept over him like a nightmare . . . The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn’t real snow. If you didn’t want it to be snow, you just paid some money. His regret in the past is not for the money lost in the crash but rather the emotional lose he faced before, "but I lost everything I wanted in the boom." (5.4-5) While at times it seems that Charlie is a truly reformed man he still refers to his past at time in a good way, "But it was nice while it lasted," Charlie said. "We were a sort of royalty, almost infallible, with a sort of magic around us." (1.44) Early on one wants to believe Charlie is changed, but when he leaves his address at the Ritz bar for an old friend, Charlie is asking for a visit form his past. Charlie obviously wants to be with his daughter but as long as he is hunted by his past he can not take care of her, “‘No, no more,’ he said to another waiter. ‘What do I owe you?’ He would come back some day; they couldn't make him pay forever” (5.16-7). Charlie tries to avoid reminders of his past but part of him still can not let it go, and that is the part that continuous to haunt him.
Blanche is a troubled woman more comfortable living in illusion and lies then in reality. As Blanche objects to being brought to the light she admits to her lies. I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, Yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don't tell truth, I tell the ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be dammed for it! Don't turn the light on!
While Blanch had every intention of a fresh start in New Orleans her lies burry her deeper into trouble. Throughout the play Stella defends Blanch to her husband, but when Stella sees Blanche in the light she is forced to question Blanches’ word.