Friday, 9 September 2011

The Character of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire



 
 In 'A Streetcar Named Desire' we focus on three main characters. One of these characters is a lady called Blanche. As the play progresses, we gradually get to know more about Blanche and the type of person she really is in contrast to the type of person that she would like everybody else to think she is. Using four main mediums, symbolism and imagery, Blanche's action when by herself, Blanche's past and her dialogue with others such as Mitch, Stanley and the paperboy, we can draw a number of conclusions about Blanche until the end of Scene Five. Using the fore mentioned mediums we can deter that Blanche is deceptive, egotistical and seductive.

 
 The writer, Tennesse Williams uses symbolism and imagery to help convey the idea that Blanche is deceptive, egotistical and seductive. We can clearly discover how deceptive Blanche is by the symbolism that Williams uses throughout the play. One can note how Blanche continually wears white dresses or a red kimono when she is being especially flirtatious, so that she makes people think that she is innocent and pure. In Scene Five Blanche's white dress, a symbol of purity is stained which is symbolic of the fact that Blanche if far from being pure. Blanche's world hinges on illusion and deception as can be seen when Blanche pours her heart out to Stella in scene five, "soft people... have got to be seductive... make a little - temporary magic". Blanche feels that she must trick and deceive in order to survive in a world where she is "fading now!" and her looks are leaving her. We are introduced to Blanche as a "delicate beauty" that "must avoid strong light". Williams, portrays Blanche as an uncertain character who hides behind the veneer of outer beauty and who when is placed under the spotlight, fails to live up to the person she would like people to think that she is. Williams also provides strong imagery of her as a moth, as she is dressed in white clothes and is fluttering. This imagery of Blanche as a moth is further emphasised when Blanche herself later states, "put on soft colours, the colours of butterfly wings and glow".

 
  There can be direct links made between what Blanche wants people to think of her, what Stanley thinks of her and what Blanche is really like when on her own. From the start of the play, Stanley is very suspicious of Blanche and says, "Look at these feathers and furs she comes here to preen herself in." Stanley and Blanche are very contrasting characters as Stanley is from a Polish working-class background where 'what you see is what you get' whereas Blanche attempts to be very 'ladylike' and innocent. Stanley sees right through her illusions, flirtations and deceptions. Despite Blanche putting on the mask of innocence and purity, she is really a fraud who can not stand up to the light in fear that she will be exposed for the person she really is. When Blanche is on her own we discover a great deal about her personality when we can see that Blanche continually lies about her drinking in order to portray herself as a true 'lady'. When nobody is watching, Blanche consumes a reasonable amount of alcohol as well as enjoying a shot with Stella. Stella then offers Blanche another shot and she refuses this saying, "No, one's my limit." Later, when Stanley offers Blanche some liquor she claims that she "rarely touches it", completely lying again all in the name of deception which to her equals personal security. Thus, we can determine that what Blanche is like when on her own is in direct antithesis to the image she would like to portray of herself.

   By Scene Five we have begun to be find out more about Blanche's past. We find out that Blanche has been a prostitute and has had a shocking past. Therefore we can say that what Blanche attempts to portray of herself as a cultured lady is not a true portrayal of who she really is and when she is placed under scrutiny or the spotlight she is exposed as a deceiver and a fraud.

  In Blanche's dialogue and interaction with other characters we can see how Blanche is deceptive, egotistical and seductive. When Blanche says to Stella, "I want to deceive him (Mitch) enough to make him want me" we are given a major insight into Blanche's true deception, ego and flirtatious nature. We can also see how greedy Blanche is as she wants Stella to leave Stanley so that she does not feel so alone and afraid. We can see this as Blanche says, "In my opinion? You're married to a madman", and "You can get out." In Blanche's conversation with Mitch she gives further weight to the idea that she deceives and tricks people. She lies consistently and pretends to be a very 'classy' and cultured when in reality she is neither. She makes Mitch guess what type of teacher she is and innocently laughs when Mitch suggests that she is a arithmetic teacher. Blanche also states, "I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action." Blanche says this in order to appeal to Mitch who is a sympathetic and kind man. Blanche is also revealing a great deal about her true character in that she can not stand the naked truth as it exposes her for what she really is, a flirtatious person who does not want to be exposed for the person she really is.
 
As the play progresses, we gradually get to know more about Blanche and the type of person she really is in contrast to the type of person that she would like everybody else to think she is. Using four main mediums, symbolism and imagery, Blanche's action when by herself, Blanche's past and her dialogue with others such as Mitch, Stanley and the paperboy, we can draw a number of conclusions about Blanche until the end of Scene Five. Using the fore mentioned mediums we can deter that Blanche is deceptive, egotistical and seductive. 



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