The Mental Destruction of Blanche Dubois

1666 words 7 pages
Tennessee William’s play A Street Car Named Desire offers a glimpse into the harsh reality faced by single southern woman in the 1940s. The 1940s was a time when females were viewed as delicate and fragile; therefore, it was understood that a male companion was a necessity to keep them safe and secure (Cook 84). The character of Blanche Dubois embodies the 1940s distressed female as she struggles with her environment. She is battling guilt, loneliness and financial insecurity when she arrives in Elysian Fields. Critics and audiences alike have mixed reactions to Blanche and her role as the tragic protagonist. In “The Space of Madness and Desire” Anne Fleche suggests Blanche is mad from the outset of the play. Others such as Leonard …show more content…

His rejection contributes to the ultimate destruction of her crumbling hold on reality. She shrinks from the horror of reality that her brother in law exposes and retreats into her own fantasies where she is in control.
The play immediately presents Blanche and Stanley as polar opposites; Blanche represents high-class poise and a gentle southern demeanour while Stanley represents unrefined manhood untouched by civilization and its effeminizing influences. He is a virile character with vitality, heartiness and a lust for life; these characteristics however lead him into launching an unrelenting, calculated assault on the already crumbling facade of Blanche’s world. Blanche believes that Stanley is like a man from the Stone Age after she witnesses his behaviour and attack on Stella during the night of the poker game. She thinks that he “acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits. Eats like one, moves like one, [and] talks like one” (83). This strongly contrasts Blanche who was raised as a delicate, civilized and well mannered woman with a sense of propriety. She is completely unprepared for Stanley’s brutish virility. In one sense, Stanley and Blanche are fighting for Stella; they both try to pull Stella out of the other’s grasp. Stanley hates Blanche because he feels his relationship with Stella is strained as a result of Blanche’s influence; he reminds Stella that before Blanche’s arrival they were happy being “common” together (137). Blanche would like to