Essay About Blanche From A Streetcar Named Desire

In Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire, the nature of theatricality, “magic,” and “realism,” all stem from the tragic character, Blanche DuBois. Blanche is both a theatricalizing and self-theatricalizing woman. She lies to herself as well as to others in order to recreate the world as it should be—in line with her high-minded sensibilities. To that extent, much of her creations arise from a longing for the past, nostalgia for her lost love, her dignity, and her purpose in life. She is haunted by the ghosts of what she has lost, and the genteel society of her Belle Reve, her own beautiful dream. Blanche arrives at Stella’s doorstep with, essentially, a trunk full of costumes from her past. She is intensely self-conscious and a performer in the utmost sense. We meet Blanche at a point in her life where few, if any, of her actions do not seem contrived or performed to some extent.

In Scene 3 of Act I, she produces a small performance for her suitor, Mitch, in her efforts to seduce him. She turns on the radio for soundtrack, directs Mitch to “…turn on the light above now!” and exclaims, “Oh, look! We’ve made enchantment (39)!” as she dances away as the self-cast star of the impromptu performance. Stella applauds from...

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Model Essay 1

“A Streetcar named Desire” is a play written by Tennessee Williams in which the central character is flawed but nevertheless gains your admiration. It is a play about Blanche DunBois who comes to New Orleans to live off her sister’s charity after losing the family home through her promiscuous past. Williams makes awareness of the flaw and creates admiration of the character through his use of characterisation, contrast, conflict, key scenes and aspects of staging.

 

Firstly, the characterisation of Blanche DuBois successfully hints at her flaw early in the play. She is described in the stage directions as she enters the play: “daintily dressed in a white suit” and as fragile as “a moth”. Word choice of “daintily” suggests Blanche’s fragility and “white suit” suggests her purity and innocence. Blanche’s purity is furthermore emphasised through her name “Blanche” which is French for “white”. The audience’s admiration for her character begins to grow as she is portrayed as an innocent character. Her flaw is hinted through William’s use of the metaphor of “the moth” which reminds of the saying: “as a moth to a flame” suggesting that she is drawn to danger foreshadowing the idea that Blanche may lead herself to her own destruction. This leads the audience to wonder that if she is so innocent and pure then what is that that would lead her to cause her own destruction?

 

A further dramatic technique Tennessee Williams uses to bring out Blanche’s flaw and our admiration is contrast of characterisation. Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowlaski (her sister’s husband) have many aspects of their characters which are contrasted to emphasise their differences, create tension and effectively lead to conflict between the characters. Stanley is described as being common: “I was common”. This shows he is of the lower, working classes whereas Blanche is her “white suit” suggests she is of a higher, middle class. Stanley is described as a very masculine character: “Heartiness with men, his appreciation of rough humour” and “gaudy seedbearer”. The word choice of “rough” has connotations of violence which effectively contrasts with Blanche’s fragility alongside Stanley’s strength: “strongly, compactly, built”. His violent nature is also effectively brought out throughout the play through Williams’ use of a violent register in his stage directions: “smacked”, “smashed”, “slammed”. This emphasises Stanley’s violence and therefore creates sympathy for Blanche as she obviously is weaker than Stanley. The expression “gaudy seed bearer” successfully successfully portrays Stanley’s sexual power over women. This also, by contrast, suggests Blanche’s sexual weakness.

 

Williams creates these contrasts in the characters to lead to conflict. Blanche’s character therefore successfully gains admiration as although she has many weaknesses as opposed to Stanley’s strength she stands up to Stanley. Sympathy for Blanche is also achieved when Stanley verbally bullies Blanche and tries to threaten her with what he knows about her promiscuous past:

 

“this somebody named Shaw is under the impression that he met you in Laurel, but I figure he must have got you mixed up with some other party, because the other party he met at a hotel called ‘The Flamingo’.”

 

This successfully brings out Blanche’s flaw: she lies and finds it hard to face reality, she tries to hide the truth of her past.

 

Blanche’s flaw is further brought out through Williams’ use of symbolism. He symbolises her flaw through two symbols: “the light bulb” and “the adorable coloured paper lantern”. The “light bulb” symbolises reality and the truths she can not face and the “paper lantern” symbolises Blanche’s frequent covering up of reality.

 

Furthermore, Tennessee Williams successfully uses aspects of staging to add to our admiration of Blanche and our understanding of her flaws. His use of dramatic irony creates sympathy for Blanche as “The Varasouvania” plays frequently in her mind causing her emotional pain. The music reminds her of the night when her young handsome husband committed suicide. This dramatic irony is reached as the other characters do not hear it but Blanche and the audience do. Blanche therefore gains admiration as she has to cope with (and has been coping with) this painful event from her past which has filled her with grief.

 

Lastly, Williams uses key scenes to effectively expand the audience’s admiration for Blanche. A character who get close to Blanche is Mitch (another strong masculine character). He “tears away the paper lantern” in a scene where he attempts to relieve his sexual frustrations on Blanche. The word choice of “tears” successfully brings out Mitch’s forceful character and therefore the scene creates admiration for Blanche as she stands up to this forceful character and manages to stop him when he tries to rape her. The scene also relates back to her flaw of not facing up to reality through William’s use of symbolism of the lamp.

 

The last scene in the play is very effective in creating admiration for Blanche as she is sent away to a “State Institution”. We admire her character as she tells the truth about an event in which she was raped by Stanley but her sister does not believe her and sends her away. We know she is telling the truth so we admire her for trying to stand up for her argument and for once she has overcome her flaw and is facing reality. She says: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” thus creating sympathy for Blanche as it shows she could not count on her close family to be kind and shows what she has had to do all her life in order to survive. This creates admiration for Blanche.

 

In conclusion, “A streetcar named Desire” by Tennessee Williams is a play in which a central character is flawed but nevertheless gains your admiration. Williams firstly effectively shows this through his use of characterisation creating a contrast which leads to conflict thus bringing out sympathy and admiration. This conflict also draws the audience’s attention to Blanche’s flawed character. Secondly, Williams’ use of aspects of staging also draws out admiration for Blanche from the audience. Finally, Williams’ use of key scenes further relates to Blanche’s flaw and successfully extends the audience’s admiration for her character.

 

Model Essay 2

A Streetcar named Desire

 

“A Streetcar named Desire” is a play written by Tennessee Williams in which the central characters obsessive behaviour helps the reader understand the character in the play as a whole.  It is a play about Blanche DuBois who comes to New Orleans to live off her sister’s charity after losing the family home through her promiscuous past. Williams makes awareness of the flaw and creates admiration of the character through his use of characterisation, contrast, conflict, key scenes.

 

Firstly, the characterisation of Blanche DuBois successfully illustrates her fanatical flaw early in the play. She is described in the stage directions as she enters the play: “daintily dressed in a white suit” and as fragile as “a moth”. Word choice of “daintily” suggests Blanche’s frailty and “white suit” suggests her purity and innocence. Blanche’s purity is furthermore emphasised through her name “Blanche” which is French for “white”. The audience’s understanding for her character begins to grow as she is portrayed as an innocent character. Her flaw is hinted through William’s use of the metaphor of “the moth” which reminds of the saying: “as a moth to a flame”signifying that she is drawn to danger foreshadowing the idea that Blanche may lead herself to her own obliteration.

 

A further dramatic technique Tennessee Williams uses to bring out Blanche’s flaw and further our understanding is contrast of characterisation. Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowlaski (her sister’s husband) have many aspects of their characters which are contrasted to stress their differences, create tension and effectively lead to conflict between the characters. Stanley is described as being common: “I was common”. This shows he is of the lower, working classes whereas Blanche is her “white suit” suggests she is of a higher, middle class. Stanley is described as a very masculine character: “Heartiness with men, his appreciation of rough humour” and “gaudy seed bearer”. The word choice of “rough” has connotations of aggression which effectively contrasts with Blanche’s fragility alongside Stanley’s strength: “strongly, compactly, built”. His violent nature is also effectively brought out throughout the play through Williams’ use of a violent register in his stage directions: “smacked”, “smashed”, “slammed”. This emphasises Stanley’s violence and therefore creates sympathy for Blanche as she obviously is weaker than Stanley. The expression “gaudy seed bearer” successfully portrays Stanley’s sexual power over women. This also, by contrast, suggests Blanche’s sexual weakness.

 

Williams creates these contrasts in the characters to lead to conflict. Blanche’s character therefore effectively gains admiration as although she has many weaknesses as opposed to Stanley’s strength she stands up to Stanley. Sympathy for Blanche is also achieved when Stanley verbally bullies Blanche and tries to threaten her with what he knows about her promiscuous past:  “this somebody named Shaw is under the impression that he met you in Laurel, but I figure he must have got you mixed up with some other party, because the other party he met at a hotel called ‘The Flamingo’.”

 

This successfully brings out Blanche’s flaw: she lies and finds it hard to face reality, she tries to hide the truth of her past.

 

Blanche’s flaw is further brought out through Williams’ use of symbolism. He symbolises her flaw through two symbols: “the light bulb” and “the adorable coloured paper lantern”. The “light bulb” symbolises reality and the truths she can not face and the “paper lantern”symbolises Blanche’s frequent covering up of reality.

 

Furthermore, Tennessee Williams successfully uses aspects of staging to add to our admiration of Blanche and our understanding of her flaws. His use of dramatic irony creates sympathy for Blanche as “The Varasouvania”plays frequently in her mind causing her emotional pain. The music reminds her of the night when her young handsome husband committed suicide. This dramatic irony is reached as the other characters do not hear it but Blanche and the audience do. Blanche therefore gains admiration as she has to cope with (and has been coping with) this painful event from her past which has filled her with grief.

 

Lastly, Williams uses key scenes to effectively expand the audience’s admiration for Blanche. A character who get close to Blanche is Mitch (another strong masculine character). He “tears away the paper lantern” in a scene where he attempts to relieve his sexual frustrations on Blanche. The word choice of “tears”successfully brings out Mitch’s forceful character and therefore the scene creates admiration for Blanche as she stands up to this forceful character and manages to stop him when he tries to rape her. The scene also relates back to her flaw of not facing up to reality through William’s use of symbolism of the lamp.

 

The last scene in the play is very effective in creating admiration for Blanche as she is sent away to a “State Institution”. We admire her character as she tells the truth about an event in which she was raped by Stanley but her sister does not believe her and sends her away. We know she is telling the truth so we admire her for trying to stand up for her argument and for once she has overcome her flaw and is facing reality. She says: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”thus creating sympathy for Blanche as it shows she could not count on her close family to be kind and shows what she has had to do all her life in order to survive. This creates admiration for Blanche.

 

In conclusion, “A streetcar named Desire” by TennesseeWilliams is a play in which a central characters obsessive behaviour shows the reader who they really are underneath. Williams firstly effectively shows this through his use of characterisation creating a contrast which leads to conflict thus bringing out sympathy and admiration. This conflict also draws the audience’s attention to Blanche’s flawed character. Secondly, Williams’ use of aspects of staging also draws out admiration for Blanche from the audience. Finally, Williams’ use of key scenes further relates to Blanche’s flaw and successfully extends the audience’s admiration for her character.


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