Blanches Tragedy a streetcar named desire
"Has been a lifesaver so many times!"
- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
"Exactly the help I needed."
- Jennifer Hawes, student @ San Jose State
"The best place for brainstorming ideas."
- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
Blanches Tragedy a streetcar named desire
Blanche, Stella\'s older sister, until recently a high school English teacher in
Laurel, Mississippi. She arrives in New Orleans a loquacious, witty,
arrogant, fragile, and ultimately crumbling figure. Blanche once was
married to and passionately in love with a tortured young man. He killed
himself after she discovered his homosexuality, and she has suffered from
guilt and regret ever since. Blanche watched parents and relatives, all the
old guard, die off, and then had to endure foreclosure on the family estate.
Cracking under the strain, or perhaps yielding to urges so long suppressed
that they now could no longer be contained, Blanche engages in a series of
sexual escapades that trigger an expulsion from her community. In New
Orleans she puts on the airs of a woman who has never known indignity,
but Stanley sees through her. Her past catches up with her and destroys
her relationship with Mitch. Stanley, as she fears he might, destroys what\'s
left of her. At the end of the play she is led away to an insane asylum.
This is indeed the story of what happened to Blanche in the play but what
flaws in her own character were to blame for her subsequent tragedy.
Blanche is by far the most complex character of the play. An intelligent
and sensitive woman who values literature and the creativity of the human
imagination, she is also emotionally traumatised and repressed. This gives
license for her own imagination to become a haven for her pain. One
senses that Blanches own view of her real self as opposed to her ideal self
has been increasingly blurred over the years until it is sometimes difficult
for her to tell the difference. It is a challenge to find the key to Blanche\'s
melancholy but perhaps the roots of her trauma lie in her early marriage.
She was haunted by her inability to help or understand her young, troubled
husband and that she has tortured herself for it ever since. Her drive to lose
herself in the "kindness of strangers" might also be understood from this
period in that her sense of confidence in her own feminine attraction was
shaken by the knowledge of her husband\'s homosexuality and she is driven
to use her sexual charms to attract men over and over. Yet, beneath all
this, there is a desire to find a companion, to find fulfilment in love. She is
not successful because of her refusal or inability to face reality, in her
circumstances and in herself.
Blanche has a hard time confronting her mixed desires and therefore is
never able to sort them out and deal with them. She wants a cultured man
but is often subconsciously attracted to strong, basic male characters,
perhaps a response to her marriage with a cultured, sensitive man which
ended in disaster.
So although Blanche dislikes Stanley as a person, she is drawn to him as a
type of man who is resoundingly heterosexual and who is strong enough to
protect her from an increasingly harsh world. This seems to be the
reason for her brief relationship with Mitch, but it becomes clear to
Blanche that Stanley is the dominant male here and she begins to
acknowledge that fact.
When Blanche tells the operator in Scene Ten that she is caught in a trap,
part of her realises she has set herself up via her desires. Stanley is the
embodiment of what she needs, yet detests, and, because of her sister, can
never have. After Stanley has stripped her of her self-respect in this scene,
she becomes desperate, unable to retreat to her fantasies and so this deeper
layer of her desires is revealed. Yet, Blanche does not know how to face
these feelings and she senses to give into them could be disastrous for her.
As Stanley advances towards her, she tells him, "I warn you, don\'t, I\'m in
danger!" but Stanley has made sure that this time there is no where for her
to hide. In her final act, she silently acknowledges that her own desires
have also led to this date.
It is interesting that neither Blanche nor Stanley seriously seem to
consider Stella as Scene Ten reaches a climax. They both recognise that
somehow they are drawn together and also repelled by forces that are
directly between them and that have little to do with Stella. Things come to
a head so quickly that it is as if tensions have been bubbling beneath the
surface to such an extent that they erupt immediately and Stella is
View Full Essay
English-language films, A Streetcar Named Desire, Operas, The Golden Girls, Family Plot, Blanche, Stella Kowalski, Blanche DuBois
More Free Essays Like This