Analysis of Literary Works

The Failed Journey of Blanche Dubois in a Streetcar Named Desire

The Failed Journey of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire

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Williams brings forth an element of contrast when sketching the background setting of the play while also drawing the character of Blanche. The play begins with the audience looking through the outward lens – where the background showcases the lives of Northern Americans, with cheap gossip, business talks and the music of the ‘blue piano’ overlaying the scene to present the daily life of Northerners where everything has a purpose. In the midst of all these enters Blanche – her mere appearance instantly highlights her as an outsider. Williams zooms the lenses on Blanche and describes her dressing to be for a ‘summer tea or cocktail party’. This specific description blares as a hint of Blanche’s inability to fit in, almost foreshadowing her failure to conform to his new society.

The setting and Blanche’s state presents a stark contrast between them. Before Blanche enters, Williams paints the lives of the Northerners as something that carries on, where Stanley and Mitch enter donning work clothes and vibrating with male energy as Stanley throws a packet of meat at Stella, talking about business with Mitch and bellowing at Stella. They have exchanges that seem almost routine with Stella going after Stanley to watch his bowling game. Their life is preserved in a sense of routine and practicality where Blanche is a destitute without a stable life. She is completely lonely and this is accentuated not only through her incongruent style of clothing but also her alcoholism which she tries to hide constantly. Blanche’s mental state is quite obvious as well – she can hardly keep a grip of herself and presents symptoms of paranoia, with her thinking that everyone’s out to get her, ‘You’re a fine one to sit there accusing me of it!’ ‘Sit there and state at me, thinking I let the place go!’ She has also come unannounced, almost as if she feared to be unwelcome by her sister and that Stella won’t be happy to see her. She is completely aware of her state as an outcast and she tries to veil it by pretending to be well off.

Blanche is in denial of the reality – that life in the post-Depression America is not spacious and (?). On first seeing her sister’s house, she presents surprise and disbelief and has to look twice to ascertain that this was truly her sister’s house. She need further confirmation through Eunice to settle on her sister’s living condition, making her feel out of place. Blanche’s apprehension on her sister not welcoming her arrival is ironical. Her sister does accept her arrival when she first meets Blanche but is then made uncomfortable, not for her own personal reasons but because of Blanche’s persistent criticism and obvious disapproval of her lifestyle. She points out Stella’s living condition first, ‘What are you doing in a place like this?’ and then moving on to comment about Stella’s appearance and figure to finally remark on Stanley ‘ Stella: But of course there were certain things to adjust myself with. Blanche: Such as his civilian background!’ Her reprehensive assertions create an element of conflict between the two sisters where Stella finally goes to another room crying, having been verbally attacked by Blanche.

Blanche is a societal misfit and fears rejection when she is unable to conform herself within society as she is now totally a destitute in dire need of sympathy. Her mental state is a deterrent in Blanche’s life as she constantly attempts to hide her gradual mental demolishment but comes too short and instead, isolates herself further and catalyses her disintegration. From her incompatible dressing to her breakdowns and inability to control herself, audiences are made vividly clear as to how Blanche’s journey would be a failed one, even bringing an ominous tone from her social outcast-ness that something terrible will happen further along the line.

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