“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams

Subject: Literature
Pages: 3
Words: 849
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor

Introduction

A Streetcar Named Desire is a chef-d’oeuvre play by Tennessee Williams, and it has many interesting characters. However, one of the protagonists, Blanche Dubois, stands out from the rest because she is dramatic and she adds flavor to the play. Williams presents Blanche as a two-faced character. On the one hand, she is an intelligent and elitist woman, who knows her worth – she would not settle for less. On the other hand, she is immoral and weak in many aspects. She lies for so long that she loses touch with her reality. This paper discusses the two sides of Blanche as presented by Williams in A Streetcar Named Desire.

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Blanche’s Positive Portrayal

When Blanche is introduced in scene one of the play, she comes out as an intelligent woman. She is a former school teacher, which means she is at least educated to a certain acceptable level. In addition, she is classy and she knows her worth. Williams states that Blanche looks like she was “arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district” (Williams, n.d., p.3). Dressed in a hat, gloves, and white earrings of pearl, she embodies fragile beauty, which could only be associated with a respectable person. Even though she is broke to the extent of losing Belle Reve, she does not let such circumstances define her worth. Immediately she arrives at her sister’s place, she expresses her disapproval of the poor conditions under which the Stanleys are living. Stanley rightly points out that she behaves like the Queen of the Nile.

In addition, Blanche clearly states her worth. She orders her sister around because she “loves to be waited on” (Williams, n.d., p. 83). She also expects to be complemented by those around her. This sense of self-worth could be confused with unnecessary pride, but such is not the case with Blanche. It is important to note that she is broke and she is seeking to be hosted by Stella, her sister. Many people under such circumstances would let circumstances define their self-worth, but Blanche is different. She is outright confident about what she wants in life and nothing is going to stand in her way. Such courage and acknowledgment of self-worth are to be admired. She flaunts herself confidently before a group of men, and when they fail to recognize her beauty and elegance and pull out a chair for her, she does not hide her disapproval of such uncultured manly behavior. Therefore, Williams presents Blanche positively by portraying her as a confident young woman, who knows her self-worth.

Blanche’s Negative Portrayal

Despite the overriding sense of self-worth, Blanche is a person of loose morals. At the start of the play, she blatantly lies to Stella that she is on a leave of absence from her work, as a respectable schoolteacher. However, she knows that she has been fired from her work. These lies should not be confused with her disillusionment because she later confesses to Mitch, “Never inside, I didn’t lie in my heart” (Williams, n.d., p. 129). In addition, she says, “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 truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!” (Williams, n.d., p. 127). This confession is a clear indication that she lies on purpose, which is immoral.

Similarly, Blanche comes out as a promiscuous woman sleeping around with almost everyone she meets including underage boys. She confesses to Mitch that she was fired from her job for sleeping with one of her students. This behavior continues even after she arrives at her sister’s place – when she meets the paperboy, instead of giving him money, she resorts to a lustful kiss, which leaves the boy confused. Stanley reveals that one of the reasons why Blanche was evicted from the motel where she was living was due to her numerous sexual liaisons. She confesses to Mitch, “I had many intimacies with strangers. After the death of Allan – intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with” (Williams, n.d., p. 128). While it is important to understand and sympathize with Blanche for her loss and the need for emotional connection, her promiscuous behavior is immoral nonetheless. This behavior paints her negatively as it contravenes moral expectations that she should observe when interacting with men.

Conclusion

Blanche is a controversial character as presented by Williams in A Streetcar Named Desire. She is an intelligent and respectable woman as a schoolteacher. Additionally, she knows her worth, which is not associated with whether she has money or not. Despite losing all her properties and job, she has the audacity to question her sister’s living conditions. However, she is promiscuous, specifically drawn to underage boys. She loses her job due to such behavior and she is not remorseful for it as she repeats the same with the newspaper boy. Therefore, Williams presents Blanche Dubois, both positively and negatively in the play as shown in this paper.

Reference

Williams, T. (N.d.). A Streetcar Named Desire. Web.

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