Blanche’s presence in the narrative exists to illuminate her path to purgatory through a series of conflicts, insecurities, and failed romantic interactions. Her history is plagued with the past; and she seldom forgets it nor lets those around her forget their alleged responsibility to comfort her.
“I never was hard enough or self-sufficient enough. When people are soft - soft people have got to shimmer and glow - they’ve got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and put a - paper lantern over the light…It isn’t enough to be soft. You’ve got to be soft and attractive. And I - I’m fading now! I don’t know how much longer I can turn the trick.” - Blanche (92)
Blanche’s downfall is the result of her insecurities that have constantly oppressed her ability to think optimistically. These insecurities have been built upon nerves, her desire to be pure, manipulation of friends and family, and the apparent inadequacies of her appearance.
Blanche’s overstressed nerves are the physical representation of her challenging history and desire to overcome it. She is frequently debilitated by her need to calm down; which is a highly frequent event. Added to her nerves; she is incapable of calming them without the help of another or of an alcoholic beverage. This is likely because of her fear of the unpredictable future. When she first arrives in New Orleans to visit her sister Stella and Stanley, she remarks to Stella, “I want to be near you, got to be with somebody, I can’t be alone! Because - as you might have noticed - I’m - not very well,” - Blanche [Her voice drops and her look is frightened] (Williams 17). She needs Stella to provide her with attention so that she can be relie...
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...r in the colorful shadows, where she believes she is most attractive.
Blanche’s complexities are matched by her apparent inadequacies. She retreats from exposure and indecency to project an image of sanctity. Her nerves are evidence that this act frightens her; and the uncertainty of her future is enough to furnish an unsettled mental capacity. She is unable to think optimistically about her existence and is sheltered by past grievances and society’s obsession with perfection. Blanche, once in possession of a “perfect existence” in her youth, has let her overwhelming insecurities dominate her existence. In purgatory, Blanche will be judged for her manipulation and falsehoods. Her disavowed purity will be judged; though like Mary, she will prevail because of her martyrdom. Her downfall is anticipated; though her redemption will be the true test of her righteousness.
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