It propels the plays plot and creates an overarching tension. Ultimately, Blanches attempts to remake her own and Stellas existences? to rejuvenate her life and to save Stella from a life with Stanley? fail. One of the main ways Williams dramatizes fantasys inability to overcome reality is through an exploration of the boundary between exterior and interior. The set of the play consists of the two-room Kowalski apartment and the surrounding street. Williamss use of a flexible set that allows the street to be seen at the same time as the interior of the home expresses the notion that the home is not a domestic sanctuary.
The Kowalskis apartment cannot be a self-defined world that is impermeable to greater reality. The characters leave and enter the apartment throughout the play, often bringing with them the problems they encounter in the larger environment. For example, Blanche refuses to leave her prejudices against the working class behind her at the door. The most notable instance of this effect occurs just before Stanley rapes Blanche, when the back wall of the apartment becomes transparent to show the struggles occurring on the street, foreshadowing the violation that is about to take place in the Kowalskis home.
Though reality triumphs over fantasy in A Streetcar Named Desire, Williams suggests that fantasy is an important and useful tool. At the end of the play, Blanches retreat into her own private fantasies enables her to partially shield herself from realitys harsh blows. Blanches insanity emerges as she retreats fully into herself, leaving the objective world behind in order to avoid accepting reality. In order to escape fully, however, Blanche must come to perceive the exterior world as that which she imagines in her head.
Thus, objective reality is not an antidote to Blanches fantasy world; rather, Blanche adapts the exterior world to fit her delusions. In both the physical and the psychological realms, the boundary between fantasy and reality is permeable. Blanches final, deluded happiness suggests that, to some extent, fantasy is a vital force at play in every individuals experience, despite realitys inevitable triumph.