Symbolism by definition is the representation of things by means of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events or relationships. Symbolism plays an important role in the play by helping readers understand the concept of the theme better. The most obvious symbol used in A Streetcar Named Desire is its title and the actual reference, in the play, to the streetcars named Desire and Cemeteries. They not only are the means by which Blanche was brought to the home of Stanley and Stella; as the play unfolds, we realize the names of the streetcars have a greater significance. [Blanche says, " They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields"] (s.1, 6). Williams seems to be alluding to a belief that desire leads to death, even though it is not meant physically, but rather in an emotional aspect. The play also includes other key elements of symbolic meaning, such as Blanche wearing the color white, staying away from light, and bathing constantly.
Blanche is described as wearing white, the symbol of purity. This is very ironic, because she appears to be pure by wearing it, hiding her inner sins, even though she is actually not. In scene one the stage notes describe this to the reader. ["She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district"] (s.1, 5). The reader later discovers that Blanche is not pure by the way she has been living her life. She sees herself as a prim and proper woman, not as a prostitute. Williams shows how Blanche is not pure by an event that occurred with Stella and Blanche. [Stella pours the coke into the glass. It foams over and spills. Blanche gives a piercing cry. Stella shocked by the cry, "Heavens!" Blanche says "Right on my pretty white skirt"] (s.