Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire - Blanche DuBois' Fragile Psyche

Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire - Blanche DuBois' Fragile Psyche

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Blanche’s Fragile Psyche in A Streetcar Named Desire

 
    "Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire is to some extent living an unreal existence," according to Jonathan Briggs, book critic for the Clay County Freepress. In Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire, the readers are introduced to a character named Blanche DuBois. Blanche is Stella's younger sister who has come to visit Stella and her husband Stanley in New Orleans. After their first meeting Stanley develops a strong dislike for Blanche and for everything associated with her. Among the things Stanley dislikes about Blanche are her "spoiled-girl" manners and her indirect and quizzical way of conversing. Stanley also believes that Blanche has conned him and his wife out of the family mansion. In his opinion, she is a good-for-nothing "leech" that has attached itself to his household, and is just living off him. Blanche's lifelong habit of avoiding unpleasant realities leads to her breakdown as seen in her irrational response to death, her dependency, and her inability to defend herself from Stanley's attacks.

 

Blanche’s situation with her husband is the key to her later behavior. She married rather early, at the age of sixteen, to a boy who, she believed, was a perfect gentleman. He was sensitive, understanding, and civilized much like her, coming from an aristocratic background. She was truly in love with Allan whom she considered perfect in every way. Unfortunately, he was a homosexual. When she caught him one evening with an older man, she said nothing, choosing instead to drink too heavily and to allow her frustration to build up inside her. Sometime later that evening, while she and Allan were dancing, she told him what she had seen and...


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...and had been honest with him from the beginning. Blanche had been guilty of flirting with Stanley, as she had always flirted with men. However, being brutally raped by him in the end destroyed her because he was not a stranger. He knew her, he made her face reality, and in a way he exposed her to the bright luminous light she had been incapable of enduring throughout her lifetime.

 

Works Cited and Consulted

Atkinson, Brooks. "'Streetcar's Tragedy." New York Times (Dec. 14, 1947).

Briggs, Jonathan. “Critic’s Corner”.  Clay County Freepress 12 December 1984: 1, 25.

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

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

Williams, Tennessee.  “A Streetcar Named Desire”.  The Theater of Tennessee Williams.  Vol. I.  New York: New Directions, 1971.

 

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