A Streetcar Named Desire

.. ords used by Williams. In the first scene Blanche is described as “daintily dressed” and mentions that she is “incongruous to her setting” (Williams 96). Blanche cannot adapt to her surroundings, but instead tries to change them. Later in the story she says “You saw it before I came. Well, look at it now! This room is almost-dainty!” (Williams 176).

By using the word dainty in both places Williams shows us how Blanche tries to change her surrounding to match her, instead of adapting to them. This will not work with Stanley. Blanche deceives everyone for a good portion of the play. However, Stanley is continually trying to find her true history. Blanche says “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, Magic! I try to give that to people.

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I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth.” (Williams 177). Stanley does not enjoy “magic”, he says that “Some men are took in by this Hollywood glamour stuff and some men are not” (Williams 114). Stanley never believes Stella’s act (i.e. her “Hollywood glamour”) he only likes the truth. This difference of philosophy creates much tension between the two. The climax of the tension between them is in the seventh scene.

While Stanley is revealing to Stella Blanche’s promiscuous life, Blanche is singing the following song: “Say it’s only a paper moon. Sailing over the cardboard sea- But it wouldn’t be make-believe if you believed in me! It’s a Barnum and Bailey world. Just as phony as it could be-But it wouldn’t be make-believe if you believed in me!” (Corrigan 53) The louder Stanley gets on insisting on the undeniable facts about Blanche, the louder Blanche sings (Corrigan 53). This is a symbolic collision of their two philosophies. Stella, the link between the two, must listen to the facts given to her by Stanley, and the virtues of idealism given to her by Blanche.

Light plays a crucial part in the struggle between Blanche and Stanley. From the beginning Blanche insists “I cannot stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark” (Corrigan 54). She then puts an artificial lantern on the light bulb. Light represents truth, and Blanche wants to cloak the truth by covering it up. Later in the play Stanley “brings to light” the true facts of Blanche’s life (Corrigan 54). When Mitch, Blanche’s boyfriend, is “enlightened” by Stanley about her history he proceeds to rip off the paper lantern from the light bulb, and demands to take a good look at her face (Corrigan 54).

The scene when Stanley rapes Blanche is the beginning of the end for Blanche. Sex is her most obvious weakness. That is the reason why she ran to New Orleans in the first place. Since she had come to New Orleans she had tried to avoid it. But, once again, Stanley is in direct contrast to this. Williams describes him: “Since earliest manhood the center of his life has been pleasure with women, .

. . He sizes them up at a glance, with sexual classifications, crude images flashing into his mind and determining the way he smiles at them.” (Corrigan 57) It is only fitting that he destroys her with sex because sex “has always been her Achilles heel. It has always been his sword and shield” (Corrigan 57). After he has sex with her, she is taken to another asylum, a psychiatric hospital (Quirino 63).

The cycle is started again. “Desire” has once again sent her off to “Cemeteries”. Throughout the book it is possible to describe the confrontation between Blanche and Stanley as a poker game. The importance of the poker game in the play is proven by the fact that Tennessee Williams was thinking of calling the play “The Poker Night”. In the first four scenes of the play, Blanche plays a good bluff. She tricks everyone into believing that she is a woman of country-girl manners and high moral integrity (Quirino 62).

Stanley asks her to “lay her cards on the table”, but she continues her bluff (Adler 54). However, Stanley then goes on a quest for the truth. He then discovers and reveals Blanche’s true past. Once he knows her true “cards” he then has the upper hand. Stanley caps his win by raping her.

It is interesting to note that in the last scene of the play, when Blanche is being taken away, Stanley is winning every hand in a poker game he is playing with friends. This symbolizes his victory over Blanche. The card game can be viewed as fate, in which skillful players can manipulate his cards to his advantage (Quirino 62). The music in the background, plays a key part in the play, in describing Blanche’s emotions. In fact at one point it says of Blanche that “The music is in her mind” (Corrigan 52).

The Blue Piano represents Blanche’s need to find a home. She is always extremely lonely and needs companionship. This music is apparent during scene one when she is recounting the deaths of her family at Belle Reeve, and when she kisses the newsboy in scene five. The music is the loudest during the scene when Blanche is being taken away to the asylum. The Varsouviana Polka represents death, and to Blanche immanent disaster. This music is heard as she explains the suicide of her husband in scene six.

It is also in the background when Stanley gives her a Greyhound ticket to go home (i.e. back to cemeteries) in scene eight. It also fades in and out of the scene where Mitch confronts Blanche about her true past (Corrigan 52). In studying the main character of A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche DuBois, it is necessary to use both a literal translation of the text as well as interspersed symbolism to have a complete understanding of her. Tennessee Williams the author of the play wrote it this way on purpose. In fact he once said that “Art is made out of symbols the way the body is made out of vital tissue” (Quirino 61).

This is a wonderful quotation to show just how necessary it is to incorporate symbolism in an interpretation of a story.

A Streetcar Named Desire

But, honey, you know as well as I do that a single girl, a girl alone in the world has got to keep a firm hold on her emotions or shell be lost! Blanche DuBois, the tragically poignant character of Tennessee Williams notable play A Streetcar Named Desire, compensated for her disheveled past with fantasies. Scarred by the abrupt suicide of her husband Allen Grey, Blanche gradually slipped into a world governed by her delusions. For instance, she was overtaken with loneliness so she embarked on a conquest to fill the void in her life with love. After many foolish attempts Blanche met Mitch, a gentleman whom she believed would replace her loneliness with love and respect. Sadly her ambitious fantasy was destroyed by Stanleys cruel intervention, and Blanche was once again abandoned by someone she trusted. In the end, Blanche could no longer cope with harsh reality, and as a result she took refuge in a make believe world of fantasy and dreams.

In order to better understand blanches fantasies, one must retrace the events to the root of the problem. As a young girl blanche married Allen Grey, who at the time was confused about his sexuality. Upon discovering his secret, Blanche felt disgusted and concluded that she failed him in some mysterious way. She carried the burden of his death with her, and the immense feeling of guilt prevented Blanche from moving on. Instead she dealt with the loss by trying to recapture love through various fantasies. One in particular involved millionaire Shep Huntleigh, a gentleman, who repented her last chance for rescue. In addition to Shep, Blanche indulged her fantasies with young boys, and consequently lost her job. In short, Blanches endless search for love stemmed from Allen Greys death, and eventually escalated into a fantasy world.

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In spite of her evasive past, Blanche once more attempted to replace her loneliness with a loving relationship. When she met Mitch the previous feeling seemingly vanished, and her ultimate fantasy of marriage was plotted. Although Mitch was no Shep Huntleigh, Blanche settled on him due to the fact that he respected her, but more importantly he treated her like the lady she pictured herself. As their relationship continued to blossom Blanches hopes of marring Mitch grew, and her fantasy was steadily becoming a reality.

However, Stanley had other intentions for where blanche and Mitchs relationship was headed. Labeled as her executioner, he was determined to damage Blanches Credibility since she had interfered with his dominant lifestyle. Stanley intentionally revealed to Mitch incriminating details from Blanches past. As a result, Blanches plans for marring Mitch were thwarted and she was unable to cope with the reality that ended her fantasy. Mitch was her security, a cleft in the rock of the world that (she) could hide in. Since Blanches hero no longer trusted her, she rejected him and in turn completely lost touch with reality. And so began her downward spiral into a world of mixed emotions and fantasy.

On the whole Blanches lustful fantasies lead to her tragic demise, as did her previous husband Allen Grey. Conversely Allen died a physical death where as Blanche died an emotional death. In conclusion Blanche avoided coping with a painful reality due to the fact that she lived in a world of make believe, where her fantasies provided an escapable refuge from the harsh world she actually lived in.



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