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The Character of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire

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    Blanche, the main character in William’s play "A Streetcar Named Desire" invokes many contrasting emotions. To analyze one’s emotions concerning Blanche is no easy task, to do so effectively one must break the play into different parts and analyze them separately. The problem with Blanche is that she presents a character so mixed up in her own motives and opinions that one never knows if it is really her or an act she’s putting on. The audience will find itself constantly readjusting its position towards Blanche and the other characters as the play unfolds and we learn more about her story and the reasons behind her inadequacies. Williams makes sure nothing is white or black but grey so that at some moments in the play we struggle to find a reason for her cool manipulation and hunger for power while at others we pity her pathetic life founded on lies and misconceptions. Even when she tries to break up Stanley and Stella’s relationship we don’t immediately brand her as a villain, we remember that if Stella hadn’t left than maybe Blanche would have become what she had wanted to become rather than what society dictated her to become.

When we see Blanche for the very first time we know right away that she does not belong in Stella’s neighborhood, she is "daintily dressed" and her "delicate beauty must avoid a strong light", she seems in a fairly hysterical state but we can assume that’s just normal since she is "incongruous to this setting". She seems to be having trouble speaking normally to a black person so that we can already place the origin of her upbringing in the South, probably in one of those enormous mansions that housed rich slave owning white families. As the scene unfolds, the image of the rich, somewhat shelte...


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...e thinking about her and the play they will feel sympathy or at least pity for Blanche. What Williams demonstrates with this play is the power of memories and the ruthlessness of society.

Works Cited and Consulted

Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will. New York: Bantam Books, 1975.

Dworkin, Andrea. Intercourse. New York: The Free Press, 1087

Lant, Kathleen Margaret. "A Streetcar Named Misogyny." pp. 225-238 in REDMOND.

Redmond, James (Editor). Violence in Drama. Cambridge University Press; 1991. 

Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1985.

Williams, Edwina Dakin. Remember Me to Tom. St. Louis: Sunrise Publishing Company, 1963.

Williams, Tennessee. Memoirs. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc: 1975.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: Signet. Original copyright 1947.


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