The Tragic Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire

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“Tragic characters are “efficient” only in courting, suffering and encompassing their own destruction.” (Gassner 463). Fitting Gassner’s definition of a tragic character, Blanche DuBois in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire caustically leads herself to her own downfall. In the beginning of the play, Blanche DuBois, a “belle of the old South” (Krutch 40), finds herself at the footsteps of her sister and brother-in-law’s shabby apartment in New Orleans. Although DuBois portrays herself as a refined and sophisticated woman, the reader soon comes to realize that, hiding beneath all the pearls and jewels, is a raw and unstable character. Not only does she harbor fatal flaws of loneliness, alcoholism, and pride, the influence of her animalistic brother-in-law, Stanley, perpetuates her demise, eventually leading to what some critics perceive as “insanity.” From the very beginning, Blanche DuBois attempts to conceal her tragic flaws through a facade: of Virgin Mary like innocence and purity, while underneath her mask lays an identity of a prostitute and alcoholic. She strives to emulate a Southern aristocrat of her time period, but in this process, ironically, commits everything to solidify herself as the exact opposite. Blanche’s first impression reflects one of confidence, however; her fatal flaw of loneliness is ever present. Williams reveals to the reader Blanche’s solitude and instability with her statement to Stella, her sister, of the fact that “I can’t be alone! Because--as you must have noticed--I’m¬--not very well…” (17). Blanche yearns for the company of her sister, as she lacks any other stable relations. With the family deceased and Stella as the only survivor, Blanche can only lean on her shoulder in times of ha... ... middle of paper ... ...The Southern Review, Vol. I, No.4, October, 1965, pp.770-90. Rpt. In CLC,vol. 30. Ed. Jean C. Stine, Daniel G. Marowski. Detroit: Gale Research Co.,1984. Print. Krutch, Joseph, “How Modern Is the Modern American Drama?” in “Modernism” in Modern Drama: A Definition and an Estimate, Cornell University Press, 1953, pp. 104-34. Rpt. In CLC, vol. 30. Ed. Jean C. Stine, Daniel G. Marowski. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1984. Print Watts, Richard, Jr., “Streetcar Named Desire’ Is Striking Drama,” in Twentieth Century Interpretations of “a Streetcar Named Desire”: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Jordan Y. Miller, Prentice-Hall, inc.. 1971. Pp. 30-1 Rpt. In CLC, vol. 30. Ed. Jean C. Stine, Daniel G. Marowski. Detroit: Gate Research co., 1984. Print. Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1947. Print.
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