In analyzing Blanche DuBois, one of the main characters in A Streetcar Named Desire, it is crucial to examine not only the literal text, but also the symbolism conveyed in the play. Williams creates symbols which, as the story progresses, grow less and less sane. Following artists like Salvador Dali, he uses insanity, like intoxication and the dream, as a kind of instrument for the organization and interpretation of experience (Mendelson and Bryfonski 541).
The use of insanity has advantages over memory, especially for works of tragedy (541).
Each symbol gives more information and clues to the real personality of the character. Blanche DuBois came to New Orleans to stay with her sister Stella in the humble Elysian Fields.
Blanche and Stella come from a very wealthy and respectable family and upbringing, which is reflected in Blanche s attitude and disposition. Stella had sacrificed this life of luxury for her husband, Stanley. Blanche s feelings are quite apparent when she stares at the Elysian Fields upon arrival. Blanche cannot believe that her sister could live in such ruins, describing it as Only Poe! Only Mr. Edgar Allan Poe could do it justice! (Williams 20).
Blanche stands out in this environment. Her appearance in the first scene is compared to a moth, which is said to represent the soul (Magill Critical Survey 2072).
Her journey through the course of the play will reflect the voyage of her soul. Blanche s actual reason for coming to the Elysian Fields was to create a clean slate for herself.
... off at Elysian Fields! The name Elysian Fields represents death. This is symbolic because this place is going to bring the death of Blanche s ... Polack! After all the emotional strain she has forced onto Stella, Blanche is surprised that she has taken it on board and ... and themes of the play. The three major characters being Blanche, Stella and Stanley. The themes include madness, jealousy, death and ...
In the fourth scene she explains that she wants to make Desire 3 myself a new life (Williams 65).
Early in the play, Blanche describes her trip to Eunice, Stella s neighbor and friend. She explains They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at the Elysian Fields (15).
This quote has more symbolism than it appears. Her former life was a wreck.
Allan, her former young husband, had committed suicide when she revealed to him that she knew he had made love to another man. She explains that After the death of Allan, intimacies with strangers was all I seemed to fill my empty heart with (Williams 118).
Desire is the first phase in her journey. She further explains that death is the opposite of desire. Her death came when she was teaching high school and sparked relations with a seventeen year old boy.
She was fired soon after the principle, Mr. Graves, discovered the relationship, claiming she was morally unfit for the job (Jones 135).
This sent her to the cemetery stage, and finally to Elysian Fields, which represents the living dead (Fletcher and Joplin g 180).
So Blanche s progress in the play is from a wide range of desires (for culture, security, sex, and money) to a sort of living death, and while the slum may be Elysian Fields to Stanley and Stella, it is a Tartarus for her (Magill Masterplots 6309).
Even though no one knew about her past, she made her unstable mind evident through her actions. Blanche s actions reveal motives throughout the play.
For one, she is obsessed with bathing and being clean, revealing her need to cleanse herself of her Desire 4 past. Blanche also refuses to be seen in direct light. She says she cannot stand a naked light any more than she can stand a rude remark. The first person to bring this to our attention is Mitch, Stanley s friend and Blanche s short lived boyfriend. He explains to her You never go out till after six and then its always some place that s not lighted much! .
This is because she is afraid to reveal her age and she feels people will see through her (Jones 135).
Therefore, every light in her room is covered with a paper lantern, which is also a reoccurring symbol in the play (Magill Critical Survey 2072).
Blanches Tragedy A Streetcar Named Desire Essay, 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 ...
She does this because the light represents truth which she wants to cover up with something that looks better. When Mitch confronts her about her past, he rips off the paper lantern, as he strips her of her lies.
Blanche s self-consciousness is almost to the point of ridiculousness. Stella, who knows her sister better than anyone, urges people to tell her that she looks beautiful. In scene two, Stella tells Stanley And admire her dress and tell her she is looking wonderful. That s important to Blanche. Her little weakness! (Williams 33).
The compliments from others, either honest or sarcastic, make her feel better about herself.
From the beginning it is seen that Blanche and Stanley do not mesh well. They are two very opposite people in many ways. Stanley relies on facts and reality, while Blanche prefers to exist in an idealistic world. Stanley sees through Blanche from the very beginning when he discovered she had lost her and Stella s former home, Belle Reve. He told her and Stella about the Neopolistic Code which entitles the husband to all his wives possessions.
He became very angry when Desire 5 Blanche told him she did not have any of the papers to the Belle Reve. After the incident, he continually looks for holes in her stories, searching for the truth masked by her lies and deceit. He sees her as an intolerable intruder who very nearly breaks up his marriage. As Stanley reveals to Stella the details of Blanche s promiscuous life, Blanche is singing the following song: Say its 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. (Williams 100).
This song not only goes right along with her deceit, but also with the paper symbol used throughout the play (Magill Masterplots 6309).
Stanley s attitude was everything but kind to Blanche.
One of the best examples was his birthday present to her on her birthday. After Blanche was stood up by Mitch because of his knowledge of her past, Stanley presented her with a bus ticket back to where she came from. Stanley would find any intrusion into his happy home intolerable, but he finds it doubly so when the intruder is a woman who stays indefinitely, a woman with Blanche s affectations, her intolerance of any life style other than that of her own childhood, her obvious dislike of her sister s marriage, and her corrupt sexual past, which attracts one of Stanley s best friends (Riley and Mendelson 498).
... she despises most in men when she arrives in New Orleans and meets Stanley. Blanche continually attempts to convince Stella that Stanley is not worthy ... see where the "Cemeteries" might lie in Blanches life. It seems that every time desire fails Blanche is somehow left unprotected, cold and ...
Blanche once said on her first meeting with Stanley The first time I laid eyes on Desire 6 him I thought to myself, that man is my executioner! That man will destroy me! (Williams 93).
Blanche did not know how right she was. Blanche s inability to adapt to her surroundings is one of her biggest flaws. In the first scene, when she is described as daintily dressed, it is apparent that she does not fit in. When describing the room she was put in, she says You saw it before I came… Well look at it now! This room is almost dainty! (Williams 115).
The use of the word dainty shows how she tries to change her surroundings to fit her rather than adapting to them. Blanche also does not have the same way of handling social life with men as the other women do.
When Stella is beaten by Stanley one night while pregnant, she runs upstairs to Eunice s. Blanche, not understanding that this happens often, is appalled when Stella listens to his calls and apologies and returns to him soon after. The exact same thing happens to Eunice and her husband a few scenes later. When Mitch yells at her later in the play, she replies that deliberate cruelty is unforgivable.
Stella serves as a link between Blanche and Stanley. She must listen to the facts given to her by Stanley, as well as the virtues of idealism given to her by Blanche. She is forever patient with her sister, mainly because she knows her best and can coexist in peace with her. Stella is always doing something for Blanche, whether it is fetching her a coke from the store, or defending her from someone s harsh words. This symbolizes the life that Blanche once had, always having Desire 7 someone waiting on her hand and foot. It also shows how Stella s loyalty to her sister and her husband puts her in many bad positions.
Blanche s deceit throughout the play is best explained by her line in scene nine when she says 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 the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth! (Williams 117).
Sometimes in life, there are times when you are faced with a struggle and often times, no matter how hard you try to get yourself out of this struggle, you just can't and you end up feeling as though you have lost the battle. In "A Streetcar Named Desire,' by Tennessee Williams, there are four characters that really display this situation. Blanche, Stanley, Stella, and Mitch are the four ...
It seems as if Blanche s whole daily life revolves around lies.
The lies are not only about her past, but even smaller things as well. In scene four, she writes a letter to Shep Hunt leigh, an old beau, that is filled with lies about what she has been doing. She admits to Stella in jest that she is a liar. Blanche sees these personal falsifications to be harmless white lies that simply complement her and help her self confidence.
Her lies give her the life she dreams of living (Jones 135).
In scene ten, after the whole truth about Blanche s past has been revealed, she tells Stanley and Stella that Shep has invited her on a cruise. Although they know fully well this is a lie, they go along with her delusions for her benefit (Magill Masterplots 6309).
Blanche believes her lies so much that these lies become her truth. Blanche has finally seen her death when Stanley rapes her.
Because sex is her biggest weakness, and the reason why she came to New Orleans in the first place, it is ironic that it is what drives her to snap. Unable to believe Blanche s accusation against her husband, Stella has no choice but to have Blanche committed. Desire 8 Desire has once again sent Blanche to Cemeteries. Clearly, sex, like alcohol, has been both a cause of, and a response to, her journey (Jones 135).
When being escorted out of the Elysian Fields by the doctor and assistant, Blanche delivers her famous I ve always relied on the kindness of strangers quote. This relates also to the strangers she came across after the death of Allan.
In analyzing Blanche DuBois, it is crucial to examine not only the literal text, but also the symbolism conveyed in the play as well. Blanche s defense of culture, of the intellectual aspects of life, may be pathetic coming from one who has become a near-alcoholic prostitute, but is nevertheless genuine, important, and valid. Falk describes her as a refined gentlewoman with the biography of a prostitute (170).
Life has dealt her devastating blows, to which she has had to deal with alone.
Yet she is mainly responsible for the horrible world in which she finds herself, and her attempts to get out are pitiable and, because she does not realize her need for others, repellent (Hotch man 153).
Stanley, the sort of man who might in later years be described as macho, uncultured, and uninterested in culture, and capable of violence, is nevertheless an intelligent man, a man who functions more capably than any of his friends, but most importantly, a man who loves his wife and would be hopelessly lost without her (153).
MIKE MINELLO Love in The Elephant Mans Life The novel The Elephant Man by Christine Sparks tells a melodramatic story of a man who s appearance is so startling, it prevents him from experiencing the essential love most people experience in life. John Merrick is robbed of his childhood when his mother abandons him. He is also degraded and disregarded as a human being when he is put on display as ...
Blanche s fragile and cultured sensitivity collapses under the violent impact of her brother-in-law s uncompromising materialism, and the result is the rape of both her body and her mind.