Similarities and Conflicts in a Streetcar Named Desire
Summary Stella and Blanche are in the bedroom on an August afternoon. Blanche breaks out in laughter at the untruthfulness of the letter she has just finished writing to Shep Huntleigh, prompting Stella to ask her about the letter’s contents. Blanche gleefully reads the letter aloud. In it, she suggests that she visit Shep in Dallas, and she claims that she and Stella have been amusing themselves with society parties and visits to luxurious country homes. Stella finds no humor in her sister’s stories. Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of Steve and Eunice fighting upstairs.
Eunice accuses Steve of infidelity and cries out as he begins to beat her. After a huge noise, Eunice runs out of her flat, yelling that she is going to the police. Stanley, returning home from bowling, asks Stella why Eunice is so distraught. Stella says that Eunice has had a fight with Steve, and she asks whether Eunice is with the police. Stanley replies that he has just seen her at the bar around the corner, having a drink. Stella responds lightheartedly that alcohol is a “more practical” cure than the police for Eunice’s woes.
Steve comes downstairs nursing a bruise on his forehead, inquires after Eunice’s whereabouts, and grumpily hurries off to the bar. In the Kowalski apartment, Stanley and Blanche have a tense conversation. Blanche makes superficially charming comments to Stanley that subtly insult his lower-class disposition. Stanley is unusually rude to Blanche. He insinuates that he has acquired knowledge of Blanche’s past and asks her if she knows a certain man named Shaw. Blanche falters immediately at the mention of Shaw’s name and answers evasively, replying that there are many Shaws in the world.
Stanley goes on to say that the Shaw he met often travels to Blanche’s hometown of Laurel, Mississippi, and that Shaw claims Blanche was often the client of a disreputable hotel. Blanche fiercely denies Stanley’s accusation and insists that Shaw must have confused her with someone else. Stanley says he will check with Shaw the next time he sees him. Eunice and Steve stroll back to their apartment, affectionately wrapped in each other’s arms. Stanley then heads off to the bar, telling Stella to meet him there. Stanley’s remarks leave Blanche horribly shaken, but Stella doesn’t seem to notice.
Blanche demands to know what people in town have been saying about her, but Stella has no idea what Blanche is talking about. Blanche confesses that she has behaved badly during the past two years, the period when she was losing Belle Reve. She criticizes herself for not being self-sufficient and describes herself as “soft,” claiming that she has to rely on Chinese lanterns and light colors to make herself “shimmer and glow. ” She then admits that she no longer has the youth or beauty to glow in the soft light. Offering Blanche a soda, Stella responds that she doesn’t like to hear such depressing talk.
Blanche says that she wants a shot of alcohol to put in the Coke. She tries to get it herself, but Stella insists on waiting on her, claiming that she likes to do so because it reminds her of their childhood. Blanche becomes hysterical and promises to leave soon, before Stanley throws her out. Stella calms her for a moment, but when she accidentally spills a little soda on Blanche’s skirt, Blanche lets out a shriek. Blanche tries to laugh off the fact that she is shaking, claiming that she feels nervous about her date that evening with Mitch.
She explains that she hasn’t been honest with him about her age and that she feels she lacks the forces of attraction her youthful beauty once provided her. She has not gone to bed with him because she wants Mitch’s respect, but she’s worried he will lose interest in her. She is convinced that she must maintain her act if Mitch is to love her. She wants him very badly and says she needs him as a stabilizing force—and as her ticket away from Elysian Fields. As Stanley comes around the corner, yelling for Stella, Steve, and Eunice, Stella assures Blanche that everything will work out.
She gives Blanche a kiss and then runs off to join Stanley at the bar. Eunice and Steve run after her. Sipping her drink, Blanche sits alone in the apartment and waits for Mitch. A young man comes to the door to collect money for the newspaper. Blanche flirts with him, offers him a drink, and launches a seduction. The young man is uncomfortable and nervous. Blanche declares that he looks like an Arabian prince, then kisses him on the lips and sends him on his way, saying, “I’ve got to be good—and keep my hands off children. A few moments later, Mitch appears with a bunch of roses. Blanche accepts the flowers with much fanfare, while Mitch glows. Analysis Although Stella’s reassurance and comforting of Blanche about her relationship with Mitch is a rare moment of unchecked affection between the two sisters, by not revealing her past Blanche prevents Stella’s full comprehension of the desperate nature of Blanche’s situation. Even without Stanley around to prevent free and open communication, Blanche cannot bring herself to explain her belief that Mitch is her last chance of salvation from ruin.
Because Stella does not know the full weight of the baggage Blanche is carrying, she cannot provide the advice and support Blanche needs, and she simply expresses hope that Mitch will bring Blanche the same contentment that Stanley brings her. When she throws herself at the young newspaper boy, Blanche reveals her hypocrisy—she is lustful underneath her genteel, morally upright facade. Blanche condemns Stanley and Stella’s purely sexual relationship, but we see that her urges are every bit as strong as Stella’s, yet much less appropriate.
Compared with Blanche’s behavior, Stella’s love life looks healthy and wholesome. Eunice and Steve’s quick reconciliation after their fight also underscores the notion that Stella and Stanley’s violent love is the norm in these parts. Like the sexual attachment between Stella and Stanley, Eunice and Steve’s sexual attachment appears far healthier than Blanche’s, and Blanche’s expectations for love begin to seem unrealistic. As a dramatic device, the scene with the newspaper boy prepares us to learn the truth about the circumstances surrounding Blanche’s departure from Mississippi.
She is one of the “epic fornicators” of her clan, the last in a line of aristocrats who secretly indulged in forbidden acts because they could not find a stable outlet for their desires. When a bumbling Mitch arrives at the apartment for his date with Blanche, he quickly becomes an antidote to Blanche’s strong carnal desires. As the identity Blanche has constructed for herself begins to disintegrate, she begins to lose ground in her battle against Stanley. Stanley’s questioning of Blanche about her acquaintanceship with Shaw is the play’s first direct mention of Blanche’s blemished past.
Blanche does a poor job of pretending not to know Shaw. Her claim that she needs to avoid revealing her past to Mitch further supports our suspicions about her truthfulness. Up to this point, Blanche’s jitteriness and her need to hide herself from the outside world have suggested that she also had a past to hide. Now, the emerging facts of Blanche’s past begin to confirm the hypocrisy of her social snobbery. Opposing Backgrounds: When Stanley mentions the Flamingo Hotel, Blanche replies that she would never be seen in it. That sort of establishment is too common, low, and base for a girl of her upbringing.
She thinks herself too proper to associate with it. Opposing Backgrounds: Blanche admits to pretending to give the impression of wealth. She tells Stella that she wants Mitch to want her. He thinks that she is proper and refined. She gives the impression that she is, secretly knowing that she is not. She needs to believe that she is in order to keep up her facade. Sexuality: Stanley leaves the house without kissing Stella on purpose. This lack of sexual contact illustrates the power he has over her. By withdrawing his kisses, he is withdrawing himself from Stella, in turn showing her how upset he is without using violence.
Blanche sees the young man collecting money for The Evening Star. She is very attracted to him sexually and tells him so. She seduces him into a kiss and then forces him to leave. She knows she cannot get mixed up with a young boy when she is a grown woman. This sexual desire seems to be a weakness for Blanche. Lies/Honesty: Stanley mentions a man and place from Blanche’s past and tests her honesty by asking about him. She tells him that she does not know him and would also never be seen in a hotel like the Flamingo.
However, she is nervous and does know the things about which Stanley speaks, which implies that she is lying. Stanley knows the truth and so does Blanche. Lies/Honesty: Blanche tells Stella that she wants to deceive Mitch into wanting her. She wants to affect someone else through a type of deception or lie. This lie will make Blanche feel better about herself. Scene Five of A Streetcar Named Desire begins with a bit of fleeting optimism. Blanche DuBois is writing a letter to a wealthy male acquaintance, hoping to sweet talk her way into some form of financial security.
She reads a draft of the letter to her sister, Stella; however, the women are interrupted by violent shouting upstairs. Eunice and Steve Hubbell, the neighbors who live in the apartment above, battle each other — presumably over Steve’s infidelity. The noise escalates from loud insults to the sounds of dishes and furniture smashing against the walls. Eunice escapes the apartment, threatening to summon the police. Instead, she races around the corner and goes into a bar. Our brutish yet attractive antagonist, Stanley Kowalski enters the scene. Blanche tries to make small talk about astrology.
When she mentions that she is a Virgo (aka “virgin”), Stanley laughs contemptuously. He claims to have met an old friend of hers, a man named Shaw who used to meet her at an ill-reputed hotel in her hometown of Laurel. Blanche denies the allegation, but since the stage directions indicate her growing sense of fear, readers/audiences will sense that there might be something lascivious about Blanche DuBois and her past. Then, who should return, arm in arm from the local bar: Eunice and Steve. She sobs “luxuriously” while he is “cooing love-words. Playwright Tennessee Williams once again demonstrates the abhorrent pattern of domestic abuse followed by an emotional “make-up” period. Stanley leaves the apartment, expecting Stella to meet him at the Four Deuces bar. He doesn’t want to kiss Stella in front of Blanche, once again showing his animosity towards Stella’s sister. As soon as Stanley leaves, Blanche asks if Stella has heard any rumors from Laurel. Blanche then goes into an almost confessional monologue in which she admits that she has not been “good” in the last two years.
BLANCHE: When people are soft – soft people have got to court the favor of hard ones, Stella.
Have got to be seductive – put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and glow – make a little – temporary magic just in order to pay for – one night’s shelter! That’s why I’ve been – not so awf’ly good lately. I’ve run for protection, Stella, from under one leaky roof to another leaky roof – because it was storm – all storm, and I was – caught in the center. (Pause. ) People don’t see you – men don’t – don’t even admit your existence unless they are making love to you. In the above monologue, Blanche is trying to confide something upsetting and shameful.
For the past two years (perhaps longer) it seems as though Blanche has been offering her body in exchange for temporary security (very temporary, it would seem). However, Stella refuses to pay attention because Blanche’s words are too morbid. This exchange between them represents a significant moment; Stella is now beginning to detach emotionally from her sister. Blanche’s problems are becoming too complex and disturbing to deal with. Like Blanche who seeks security from men, Stella will soon be siding more and more with her husband in subsequent scenes. Instead of delving into her sister’s emotional problems, Stella offers her a coke.
Blanche accepts, hoping the drink will contain a shot of alcohol. When the coke spills over the glass, Blanche lets out a manic scream, again revealing her fragile mental state. Blanche explains away the scream by stating that she is just nervous about her date with Mitch that evening. Blanche views the affable, soft-spoken Mitch as one of her last chances at security. Stanley calls from the street, and Stella runs to him after giving her sister a quick kiss and reassuring her that the date will go well. Blanche is alone in the apartment, listening to the sounds of the dysfunctional lovebirds, Eunice and Steve.
Then, a young man knocks at the door. He is collecting money for the local newspaper (The Evening Star — in case there are trivia buffs reading this). Blanche flirts with the teen, comparing him to a “young Prince out of the Arabian Nights. ” Then, she kisses the young man. She says, “Now run along, now, quickly! It would be nice to keep you, but I’ve got to be good – and keep my hands off children. ” How should reader’s interpret the above line? It could be viewed as something odd but ultimately harmless. Or, the kiss could indicate that Blanche has made these sexual advances toward younger men before.
After all, she never explains why she stopped teaching high school English. This is probably not her first offense, further indicating her mental instability. After the teen leaves, her date arrives. Mitch brings flowers and Blanche gaily accepts them, thus ending Scene Five of A Streetcar Named Desire. Motifs, Themes ; Connotations: Conflict ? It is suggested that Eunice is having trouble with Steve, shown through the stage directions ‘Eunice’s voice shouts in terrible wrath’ indicating her rage and anger towards her husband Steve, claiming him to have been unfaithful to her. We find Blanche in conflict with Stanley as he questions her about her acquaintance with Shaw. This is important as it reveals that Stanley is the first person to actually see through Blanche’s facade. The stage directions: ‘Her face expresses a faint shock. ’ reveal the unsettling effect that this has had on her. ? Although not a physical conflict, the difference between the opposing backgrounds of Blanche and Mitch are made obvious when she says: ‘Look who’s coming! Mr. Rosenkavalier! Bow to me first! Now present them! ’ – This clearly shows a difference in status between the two different people.
Mitch, comes from a working class background whereas Blanche comes from a well educated family. The different levels of the characters at the point of bowing indicate this hierarchy of status? The conflict between Eunice and Steve is also reflected through this scene, beginning with a fight and ending with their eventual reconciliation. This relationship reveals key points about the society, as it seems to be similar to that of Stella and Stanley’s relationship, where they fight in a loud and possibly violent manner, yet soon seem to return back to normal as ‘Eunice shrieks with laughter and runs down the steps.
Steve bounds after her with goat-like screeches and chases her around the corner. ” (p. 172) Furthermore, Stella’s calm response to this argument “she and Steve had a row” shows that this type of situation is quite normal as and even though it seems quite dramatic as Eunice threatens to “call the police”, the other characters do not interfere and are not concerned or alarmed. This argument also reflects the extremely intense lifestyle in this society, thus depicting the kinds of vibrant, raw and animalistic relationships common in this society.
The different reactions towards this argument by Blanche and Stella further reflect their characters, as Blanche seems excited by the situation as she says ‘brightly’ ‘did he kill her? ’, in contrast to Stella’s understatement, revealing how she has accepted and is used to this society. Loneliness and the need for Protection? Blanche writes letters to Shep, her high school sweetheart, in which she embellishes facts about herself in order to create a respectable facade to present to him.
There is also a sense in which she is trying to make this illusion real for herself ? Blanche briefly reveals her misdeeds from her ‘last two years or so, after Belle Reve had started to slip’ away from her. She says ‘I never was hard or self-sufficient enough’ and here we being to learn of Blanche’s experiences and sullied reputation, although the pathos created does evoke sympathy for her as we see her (or at least she paints herself) as the victim of a cruel, harsh and unloving world.
Although sex is not explicitly mentioned, it is implicitly suggested through her long speech to Stella announcing her reasons for her actions – ‘I’ve run for protection’, ‘It isn’t enough to be soft’ ? Blanche’s desires to ‘have’ Mitch are expressed; although it seems that she desires him more for the protection that he can offer her from the harsh world than out of true love. This is implied in Blanche’s selfish ‘I want to rest! I want to breathe quietly again! Yes – I want Mitch… very badly! Just think! If it happens!
I can leave here and not be anyone’s problem…’ – the use of ‘if’ suggests a kind of desperation – as if she is clinging to a fragile hope. ? On pg. 169 Williams evokes sympathy for Blanche by portraying her as weak and vulnerable: I’ve run for protection, Stella, from under one leaky roof to another…People don’t see you men don’t-don’t even admit your existence unless they are making love to you. And you’ve got to have your existence admitted by someone…’ This not only evokes sympathy for Blanche but also represents women’s dependence on men in the play and the society of the time.
Blanche further shows that this dependence is not only for financial security but further for happiness and indeed life itself. Fantasy’s Inability to Overcome Reality .(pg. 165) Blanche: ‘Darling Shep. I am spending the summer on the wing, making flying visits here and there. And who know, perhaps I shall take a sudden notion to swoop down on Dallas! ’ When Blanche is writing her letter to Shep she finds herself telling lies about what she has been up to the past few months. …Most of my sister’s friends go north in the summer but some have homes on the Gulf and there has been a continued round of entertainments, teas, cocktails, and luncheons –‘: As the audience we oscillate between finding Blanche’s lies pathetic, after all she is attempting to seduce this Texas oil millionaire into helping her, and feeling sympathy for her as she is unable or unwilling to admit that she can no longer take part in the indulgences of the wealthy, such as ‘spending summer on the wing. ’ Obviously, looking at her surroundings and her dependence on Stella and Stanley she will be doing no such thing.
Beyond this tension in Blanche’s character we can see that Shep is another male figure in the play that Blanche is appealing to. Thus, there is the reoccurrence of the idea of female dependence on men for financial (and other) security. Stanley attempts to unsettle Blanche’s by asking about a man named Shaw, indicating that he knows about her shady past and that the illusion of gentility which she has surrounded herself with will soon be challenged by the ugly truths that Stanley has learnt from his contacts.
In response, and with a touch of desperation, Blanche tells Stanley that he has been told lies and that she would never be seen in a hotel like ‘The Flamingo’; however, her nervous appearance implies that she is lying. Stanley knows the truth and so does Blanche. Stanley seems to the first character of the play to see through Blanche’s ‘show’ as he slowly acquires information about Blanche’s past from Shaw. ? Blanche’s ‘…Of course he – he doesn’t know – I mean I haven’t informed him – of my real age! ’ implies that Blanche is sensitive about her appearance.
She feels her appearance/beauty is the only thing going for her as she constantly needs reassurance that she maintains a particular ‘young’ appearance. ? ‘I want to deceive him enough to make him – want me…’ Although her manipulation of Mitch is selfish, there is pathos in Blanche’s implicit admission that she does not believe herself truly worthy of someone to love her. ? (pg. 169) the discussion between Blanche and Stella is important relating to this theme, as Blanche suddenly defends herself through her long speech. Men don’t – don’t even admit your existence unless they are making love to you. And you’ve got to have your existence admitted by someone’, here Blanche reveals her emotional need to be recognized and we feel sympathy towards her as women seem to merely be a tool used by men for pleasure, a tool which only ‘exists’ if a man recognizes them. Throughout this speech by Blanche we see her at her most honest and vulnerable; this tragic manner creates sympathy for her and reflects her loneliness and ultimate need for constant comfort from men.
Blanche believes that you have to ‘put a – paper lantern over the light’ revealing the idea of pleasant dreams verses reality, as she is covering the light / the truth and reveling her inability to face the truth. Furthermore, throughout this speech she reveals that she is fading and that she is putting up appearances, one again revealing Blanche as an honest character who knows her that she uses her looks for seduction but who is now, again tragically, aware that this power of hers is fading.
While we are aware that Blanche did use her sexuality for comfort and that she continues to live this ‘pleasant dream’ and create ‘temporary magic’. the majority of the audience probably do sympathise with Blanche’s idea of trying to add ‘magic’ to the ugly reality and this reveals how Williams possibly appreciates her motives for lying as she is attempting to make the world a better place. The presence of paper particularly at the start of this scene is also related to the theme of inability of pleasant illusions to overcome the ugly reality. The letter that Blanche is writing at the start reflects how paper is used to hide reality and lie. It is similar to the legal documents present at the start of the play concerning Belle Reve, while the legal documents detailing the sale of the Belle Reve estate are true they reveal that Blanche’s pretentions and aristocratic grandeur are all unfounded.
Therefore the presence of paper here suggests the deterioration of the upper class since Blanche only appears to be wealthy on paper, thus depicting the decay of the ideals of the upper class and the possible decay of Romance. ? Finally, Blanche’s physical attraction towards the young man enhances the idea of a pleasant dream and temporary magic as she describes him as a ‘Prince out of the Arabian Nights’ which is representative of her constant attempt to Romanticize things by depicting them as more attractive than they really are.
This ‘dressing up’ of events and attempts to romanticize them, contrasts to Stella and Stanley’s relationship, which is blunt but pure. The Destructive Nature of Desire/ Sexuality/ Lust ? Blanche seems to be leading Shep on in her letter as she flirts with the idea of swooping down to Dallas to see him, thus emphasizing her lustful and flirtatious nature with men. The idea of swooping here seems almost predatory. ?Blanche’s flirtatious and lustful actions towards the young newspaper man slowly begin to reveal her true sexual desires.
This incident reveals that Blanche’s conservative and proper faced covers a lustful nature; ironically, it is Stella’s sexual relationship with Stanley that Blanche condemns; however we learn at this point that she is just the same, perhaps worse than her younger sister and that she is hiding the truth of her past. Here we again see Blanche in the role of wicked temptress and the line ‘I’ve got to keep my hands off young boys’ foreshadows Stanley’s later revelations about the reasons for Blanche’s dismissal from the school in Laurel.
Blanche’s attraction to her husband broke her heart, her attraction to other men (especially the soldiers near Belle Reve) destroyed her reputation in Laurel, her attraction to the schoolboy ended her career there and her final partial attraction to Stanley (and in particular) his attraction to her will be what eventually steals her sanity. Beyond this, this incident in the play goes to show the audience that Stella uses younger man as a means to build her own self-esteem and comfort herself as her looks have begun to fade.
The scene ends with Mitch’s arrival and Blanche says “look who’s coming! Bow to me first! Now present them. ” The contrast between this behaviour and her obvious lust for the newspaper boy emphasises Blanche’s deceitful nature and the sympathy we feel for Mitch. ? Although Blanche admits that she ‘want(s) Mitch…very badly! ’ (p. 171) it would be a mistake to interpret this as a sign of passion, it is a more a hunger for protection and shelter. Colour ‘Stanley comes around the corner in his green and scarlet silk bowling shirt’ – the hideous appearance of his shirt colour suggests his gaudy and low status but at the same time its bright vibrancy suggests life, energy and vitality – in contrast to the exhausted and washed out whiteness of Blanche ? Blanche: ‘Right on my pretty white skirt! ’ – The connotations of the colour white suggest purity. However, in this case, we as the audience know that Blanche is not so pure and therefore find this ironic.
The fact that her skirt is ultimately unstained merely suggests her ability to hide her past reputation, her lies and her drinking problems. Alcohol/Smoking ? Stanley: ‘Naw. She’s getting’ a drink. ’ – This suggests that the majority of the characters turn to alcohol when times fail with their relationships. This is further emphasized with Blanche’s drinking and later Stanley’s drinking after getting into an argument with Blanche. Alcohol represents a means of escape for nearly all the characters in the play.
In Eunice’s case it is from domestic abuse. This type of escape is interestingly accepted when Stella says it is more practical than the police. In the case of Blanche her need to drink further shows her need to escape from her situation and reality in general, having just been questioned by Stanley. ? Blanche: ‘Why, you precious thing, you! Is it just coke? ’ – In this case, it is suggested that Blanche had prior alcoholic problems as she fails to have a drink without having a shot in her soda. Characters: Blanche Dubois
Visits her younger sister, Stella, and her husband, Stanley, in New Orleans and stays with them throughout the summer. She is initially seen as a conservative, proper and condescending however, she drinks, smokes and tells lies to those around her. Stella loves her sister, though Stanley dislikes her, possibly because of the challenge she poses to his control of the house and the different value system she represents, which is at odds with his own. Blanche is overly concerned with her appearance, accessories and age and therefore doesn’t want to be seen in direct light.
She has a romance with Mitch in this scene and once again the audience sees the precarious state Blanche is in. She fails to have a full grasp of reality and her surroundings. Beyond this, she is unable to admit her actions in the past as shown by her denials to Stanley in the scene. Furthermore, she has strong sexual urges as shown by the encounter with the newspaper boy, but she puts on the airs of a woman who has never known indignity. From this scene above all else we find that Blanche avoids reality, preferring to live in her own imagination reaching into this escape again through drink.
Stella Kowalski She is Blanches’ younger sister and the wife of Stanley’s, she moved to New Orleans from Mississippi when she was young and fell in love with Stanley. As the audience, we learn she is pregnant and is eventually torn between her love for her husband and devotion to her sister. Stella continues to be the gullible ‘foil’ to the other two characters as she represents the majority of us torn between the competing values represented by Blanche (the beautiful dreams / lies of aristocratic gentility) and Stanley (the vibrant, thrusting competitive nature of modern Capitalist America.
Throughout this scene Stella is further contrasted with Blanche as Blanche constantly attempts to ‘dress’ events up, however Stella seems to accept the society she has chosen to live in, for instance as when the row between Eunice and Steve is occurring she does not interfere or seem disturbed or exited by the situation, unlike Blanche. Stanley Kowalski Stella’s husband, he is strong and good looking. He works in a factory and has had a limited education. He has trouble controlling his rage. However, he is ‘street smart’ and he is the first one to see through Blanche’s superficial appearance.
He bowls, drinks and is in love with Stella. Stanley’s insistence on questioning Blanche about a man named Shaw and The Hotel Flamingo shows that he has a personal vendetta to discredit and do away with Blanche. Further Stanley is depicted as a shrewd individual. Although Blanche attempts to subtly insult his lower class position, by brushing off her statements then raising questions as to Blanche’s somewhat murky past Stanley asserts his authority and undermines Blanche’s remarks. Mitch Mitch is a friend of Stanley’s from the factory who in this scene develops a romance with Blanche.
For the majority of the play he is the object of sympathy as the audience see him beguiled and manipulated by Blanche. The end of this scene demonstrates how he is clearly being used to undermine Blanche’s character in our eyes as she takes advantage of his good natured gentility. Shep Huntleigh Although unseen throughout the play, Blanche is constantly mentioning him. He is now a Texas millionaire who Blanche used to date in college. Blanche believes that he will save her from the New Orleans trap that she currently lives in.
In a sense he represents the dream world that Blanche wants to live and the fact that the audience is aware of the implausibility of him coming to rescue Blanche reveals how we are also aware that Blanche’s dreams of safety and happiness are unachievable. Shaw A friend of Stanley’s who also remains unseen throughout the play. He knows of Blanche’s past and reputation, and tells Stanley much of the information he knows that he uses against her. In contrast to Shep, Shaw represents the intrusion of unwelcome realities / truths into Blanche’s life.
In the end he (along with Stanley and Kiefaber) are the ones who tie a tin can to the tail of the kite of Blanche’s dreams. Imagery ; Setting: Scene 5 of A Streetcar Named Desire is mainly set in the Kowalski household. Throughout this scene, we find that Blanche and Stella can hear Eunice and Steve arguing from their apartment above, emphasizing the idea that even the walls seem to be permeable, suggesting lack of privacy, safety, refuge and escape, the very things that Blanche is so desperately in need of.
Relation of Part to Whole: This scene is important as we slowly begin to learn of Blanche’s past through the discussion with Stanley and her lustful actions towards the young newspaper man. Furthermore, the fight between Steve and Eunice and their reconciliation represents another example of the numerous instances of domestic abuse followed by forgiveness that we find throughout the play. This reveals the reliance of the women on men as they return despite the abuse.
This is accentuated when Blanche’s desire for Mitch is revealed, when she says ‘I guess I am just feeling nervous about our relations… men lose interest quickly…’ suggesting that she is afraid to lose him as she feels he is her escape from New Orleans and Mississippi. Furthermore, Blanche’s desire for Mitch also reflects her ultimate need for comfort and to have her ‘existence admitted by someone’. Though we feel deeply sympathetic towards Blanche in this scene as she seems to reveal and honest side of herself (p. 69 speech) and further conveys her ideal of creating a better impression of reality through her self created ‘temporary magic’, this pathos is ultimately undermined due to manipulative nature. Finally, this scene additionally develops further the motif of drunkenness as both Eunice and Blanche turn to alcohol as means of escaping from distressing situations. Analysis The quarrel between Eunice and Steve reveals a relationship similar to that between Stanley and Stella. Sexual passion is strong, and there are frequent violent outbursts from the man. But they are quickly over and the couple makes up.
Both couples seem happy with this uninhibited state of affairs; there is a raw animal vigor about it that satisfies the man and seems to arouse admiration in the woman. It is a kind of sensual paradise for them. Not for nothing is the area in which they live called the Elysian Fields. The Elysian Fields were the happy land in Greek mythology in which those who have found favor with the gods lived forever. This is in complete contrast to Blanche’s fragility and neuroticism. Each scene reveals more of the real woman behind the facade that she tries so hard to keep up.
Her letter to Shep, for example, reveals her as an accomplished liar, although one senses that it is only desperation that drives her to such lengths. The audience is likely to sympathize with her because she has considerable self-awareness about what is happening to her. She reveals this in her confessions to Stella in this scene. She is a highly sensitive, “soft” woman, ill-suited to survive in a harsh world. If she is not to be destroyed, she must somehow shield herself from reality and keep the illusion going, both for herself and others. It is not an easy task.
Blanche’s deceptions begin to crumble in this scene, as Stanley reveals his investigations into her background. He comes close to an outright accusation, but chooses to instead make sure that Blanche knows that he knows, and to let her sweat while wondering exactly how much he has been told. Blanche’s shadowy past has been foreshadowed since early in the play, but now we begin to see the truth about her background. Blanche is the last member of that long line of aristocrats with “epic fornications” that led so disastrously to the family’s downfall.
Stella escaped both the responsibility for the family’s estate and the burden of its common sin, while Blanche is truly one of the family. Blanche expresses to Stella her anxiety about her reputation – she does not want to confess, but wants to find out what Stella already knows. And, tellingly, rather than apologizing she rationalizes her behavior. In a moment of self-awareness – of seeing realistically rather than romantically – she admits that she is a soft person, not hard or self-sufficient, but with her waning attractiveness she doesn’t know how much longer she can sustain the illusion.
Or, in her interesting choice of words, how much longer she “can turn the trick. ” This choice of idiom implies that Blanche is prostituting herself – not literally, most likely, but rather that she is using her body and her charms to buy stability and comfort and association in a cruel world, and she is aware that this is a commodity with its expiration date fast approaching. But this moment of poetic lucidity is followed by a moment of imbalance, as Blanche shows uncomfortably strong emotion for her sister and then cries out as her drink spills.
Stella sees for the first time that her sister is perhaps not quite mentally stable, as her emotions ride far out of sync with the content of the exchange. The heightened unreality that will characterize the tone of the second half of the play first begins to show here. Although we do not yet hear the Varsouviana or see the shadows on the wall, the cracked inside of Blanche’s mind is beginning to show from her behavior on stage. Blanche blames her nerves on worry about her relationship with Mitch, making clear her intention to win his hand, to turn one last trick with her faded propriety and buy herself ome permanent stability. Her affection for Mitch is real, but her concerns for her personal welfare and security are more real, and they drive her to manipulate Mitch into behaving as she desires. Her intentions are undermined in the last part of the scene, before Mitch arrives, when we see a glimpse of just what it means when Blanche says she “wasn’t so good the last two years or so. ” Culture looks more kindly on female nymphomaniacs than male – Blanche does not appear to be a predator as she flirts with the paperboy, so much as sad and pathetic.
She is drawn to children, children who are innocent and gay as she imagines herself to be. Trapped emotionally in a fictional past – was her childhood so innocent with the epic fornications of her family, or her youthful love so pure with her “degenerate” husband? – she grasps at the straws of youth that she sees in the paperboy and countless other youths before him. Analysis Note that as soon as Blanche says that she was born under the sign of the virgin, Stanley chooses this moment to ask her about the man named Shaw. Blanche becomes visibly agitated during the cross-examination.
At the end, when Stanley leaves, she is trembling and in need of a drink. This, then, is Blanche’s past life beginning to close in upon her. This is also the beginning of Stanley’s plan to destroy Blanche, and she feels herself being trapped. Thus in this encounter between Blanche and Stanley, Blanche is seeing her own valued world disintegrate under the force of Stanley’s attack. This scene also illustrates Williams’ fondness for the use of symbols. The astrological signs, the spilled coke on Blanche’s white dress, and the cherry soda that the young man mentions are all used as slightly suggestive symbols.
At this point in the drama, the scene with the young boy might seem puzzlingly out of place. It is not until later that we learn Blanche had once married a young boy and had been terribly cruel to him when he most needed her. Therefore, her sexual promiscuity returns to her guilt feelings over her failure to help her young husband. She seeks to relive the past and longs for a young lover to replace the young husband who shot himself. In other words, since she once denied help to her young husband, she now tries to compensate by giving herself to almost anyone.