The appeal of Blanche Dubois and her role in A Streetcar Named Desire

Today I questioned my insecurities. I thought quite hard about Blanche, one of the characters I studied for A level literature. She’s a person who I feel very much represents a great deal of our society. Some background on the character. Blanche is a middle aged woman who goes to see her sister Stella in another town which is a town of misfits. She has a history of dating random men, flirting and sex. She is insecure, afraid of the light and wants sexual attention. Okay now that I’ve talked about some background on her, if we were to read in depth into the character, one would come to the realization that Blanche is a character whose actions, behaviors and monologues speak for a large part of human kind. Many of us are like Blanche, we crave attention. We crave it not to show off (although there are those who desire it). But we crave attention even the slightest bit of adoration (or perceived adoration) from other individuals we lap it up because it feeds who we are. It allows us to feel that we’re not as, for the lack of a better word, low, as we think we are. Blanche is portrayed as a character that’s constantly afraid. She’s afraid of light, she’s afraid of weird noises, she’s afraid of taking risks, she’s afraid of being different. As such she does all she can to assimilate into the society she’s placed in, only to realize that this community is made up of misfits who somehow coexist together in harmony because they’ve accepted their differences and they’ve already judged each other and can handle the differences. So it’s funny because we see Blanche first trying to be more superior to cement a place in the Elysian Fields community then she goes all the way to the extreme of dumbing herself down all the way to be a sexual ‘doormat’ just to try and get the feeling of being desired. The Elysian Fields community is like our world. I see it personally as a mini world where we have the usual suspects – the alphas, the servants, the feminists, the losers and the outcasts. Williams uses the play to showcase the extreme sides of humankind.
From desperation to sexual gratification I see this play as being able to lay bare the inmate human desires and it thus connects with the reader or audience and makes them feel the depth and most stark emotions that we all try to cover to gain some dignity. I see Blanche as trying to cover these innate habits and desires because the world is a judgmental place and her world – Elysian fields – or rather the world she got birthed into was a world of pain and terror. In a sense Williams spoke of what life was about, you come into a society to experience the best and worst of it. And life’s not fair. Sometimes you get to be on top but only one person can be on top. And other times you get kicked to the very bottom right down till you experience death (in Blanche’s case, in a way, mental death). Some of humanity, a large part, play no significant role apart from being a part of an ongoing cycle of life and death, they set married help reproduce and perhaps enjoy being friends with others who do the exact same thing and thus there’s no real use for them. Williams makes the play thus a work that touches the recesses of the audience soul when they come to the realization that this character expresses what they are all afraid to express. She shows the best and worse of humankind and thus her appeal to the audience would be an association that they would want to push away yet know at the back of their minds how true it is.

-disclaimer: views are my own-

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