Tennessee Williams - Sample Essay
But this is not a sensitivity of an educated, intelligent and high- spirited man but of one who had endured life’s trials and takes care of a dying mother. They are similar because they both have lost a beloved person and can understand each other’s suffering. But Blanche is obsessed with lies even when she is with him. She lies about her reason for visiting Stella and about her age. As later turns out, she betrays the only person who could save her from self- destruction. The intentional darkness in which the two meet serves again her purposes because it hides her fading beauty and her guilty conscience.
Despite of avoiding light both symbolically and physically, she desires to be in the center of attention all the time. Again she uses her body to attract, the only occasion when she intentionally moves into the light: to expose her fleshly charms and to arouse the attention of the present men. Although, Blanche proves to be a morally rotten character, she is definitely deterred by the coarse behaviour of Stanley, who beats Stella under the effect of alcohol. The domestic violence she witnesses alienates her from this environment. What eventually points out that she’s an outsider is her failure to protect Stella and to convince
her that this man would not bring her happiness. But Stella’s incomprehensible return into Stanley’s arms explains clearly that their marriage is based on pure physical attraction. Blanche is amazed and confused, becoming a threat to their marriage. At this point she begins to feel her desperate situation and her dark past life piles up on her. In scene 6 her last hope is presented, Mitch, as I mentioned earlier. She hopes to capture him by presenting herself as a young, innocent and nai?? ve girl. He, who seems to aspire to some higher value and takes care of his ill mother is happy to find a worthy woman to be his wife.
Mitch is disgusted when a depraved woman is revealed to him. Stanley’s revelation about Blanche’s past vanishes all her hopes. Her fantasy world is shaken at its foundations. In the meantime we learn Blanche’s tragic marriage with the young Allen Gray. The beloved man turns out to have a homosexual affair with an older man. She feels remorse because she caused his death by leaving him when Allen most needed her. She says that the world was filled with a “blinding light” when Allen was with her and after his suicide it disappeared for ever from her life.
Consequently Blanche’s fear of light relates as well as to this event. In face, the death of the husband brought her downfall. Her sense of guilt made her throw herself into men’s arms and to refuse to acknowledge the painful reality. Her world is of a mentally and spiritually ill person who cannot find peace, harmony and security. Her sexual affairs were a kind of search for that vivid light born out of love. The semi-darkness that rules her world signifies her disillusionment and sexual maturity, a maturity that made her dreary and unscrupulous. By having affairs with young men she longs her youthful innocence and revives Allen’s memory.
When she panics and feels remorse for Allen’s death the Varsouviana Polka is heard in her mind. It is the polka tune to which Blanche and Allen were dancing before his suicide. Earlier she discovered him in bed with an older male friend. They pretended that nothing had happened and went out for dancing. In the middle of the dance she told Allen that he “disgusted” (Williams, Scene Six) her. He ran away and shot himself with a gun. The first time when we here it is in scene 1, when Stanley wants to find out about her husband by putting questions to her. Next, it appears when Blanche tells the story of Allen’s death to Mitch and we learn that it ends only when she hears the sound of a gunshot in her head. From now on the polka tune can be heard more and more often, meaning that her final mental breakdown is approaching.
The music and the gunshot becoming so constant can be interpreted as an allusion to her fate: perhaps her own life will be ended by a gunshot. The popular ballad, “It’s Only a Paper Moon”, that she sings while bathing describes best her fantasy world. The song’s lyrics are about a make-believe world that has no place for pain, suffer and memories. The song says that if you believe in an imagined reality, it finally does become reality.
She doesn’t consider her actions harmful because she is not involved emotionally and she never lies in her heart, as she tells to Mitch. While singing in the bathroom, Stanley reveals to Stella the details of her sexually corrupt past. At this very moment her magical and imaginary self is confronted with Stanley’s description of her real nature. Once Stanley tells the truth to Mitch and Stella, they can no longer believe in her honesty and love, Mitch is horrified and cannot understand Blanche’s behaviour and lets her down. He pushes her under the strong light to see her true age and to reveal her inner nature. By doing so, he “rapes” her illusion and makes her see things as they really are and her life as it is instead of “what ought to be”.
(Williams, Scene Nine) Before the last scene, Stanley fulfills his victory upon Blanche: destroys her physically too by raping her. He establishes his superiority by stigmatizing her as being “his”. After trying to humiliate him and ruin his marriage, he needs a cruel revenge. Actually the rape is the cause of her madness, no matter that Stanley thinks it has no importance, after all she is like a prostitute. It is true that she slept with strangers but from her free will and not forced by an “ape” as Stanley is.
Her fragile nature cannot cope with deliberate cruelty as she admits just before the incident. When she tells Stella about the rape she makes her to be definitely sure that she has gone insane and her place is in a mental hospital. I think it can be interpreted as well that she conveniently saved her marriage by getting rid of her. The last moment of the play when Blanche is taken to the mental institution echoes her life philosophy: as she leaves, she says, ” I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” (Williams, Scene Eleven), and she goes with the doctor who is a stranger and seems to be a gentleman.
Her life was ruined by a man and ends in another man’s hands. Her illusions, aristocratic sensibilities and desperate search for emotional stability had no place in a world of Kovalskis, where illusions must be destroyed and primitive desires dominate. On the whole, there remains only one question about Blanche’s real nature: what kind of person was she, a depraved, wicked woman who fell in her own trap or an innocent, nai?? ve girl in a world that is not able of understanding and compassion? Probably she would like to be such a girl but the unfortunate events of her life and her weak character lead her on the wrong way.
Despite the wish to dominate and seduce all men, she ended as an object in their hand. She needed them to survive because a woman could not live a successful life on her own those days (? ), so became inferior to them. Blanche is unable to get over the past and she fails to face the present or the future, thus slips into insanity. Works cited: Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire.
Works consulted: Lichtenstein, Jesse and O’Dwyer, Deirdre. SparkNote on A Streetcar Named Desire. 4 Jan. 2006 <http://www. sparknotes. com/lit/streetcar/>.