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Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire – Blanche DuBois’ Fragile Psyche

Blanche’s Fragile Psyche in A Streetcar Named Desire

“Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire is to some extent living an unreal existence,” according to Jonathan Briggs, book critic for the Clay County Freepress. In Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire, the readers are introduced to a character named Blanche DuBois. Blanche is Stella’s younger sister who has come to visit Stella and her husband Stanley in New Orleans. After their first meeting Stanley develops a strong dislike for Blanche and for everything associated with her. Among the things Stanley dislikes about Blanche are her “spoiled-girl” manners and her indirect and quizzical way of conversing. Stanley also believes that Blanche has conned him and his wife out of the family mansion. In his opinion, she is a good-for-nothing “leech” that has attached itself to his household, and is just living off him. Blanche’s lifelong habit of avoiding unpleasant realities leads to her breakdown as seen in her irrational response to death, her dependency, and her inability to defend herself from Stanley’s attacks.

Blanche’s situation with her husband is the key to her later behavior. She married rather early, at the age of sixteen, to a boy who, she believed, was a perfect gentleman. He was sensitive, understanding, and civilized much like her, coming from an aristocratic background. She was truly in love with Allan whom she considered perfect in every way. Unfortunately, he was a homosexual. When she caught him one evening with an older man, she said nothing, choosing instead to drink too heavily and to allow her frustration to build up inside her. Sometime later that evening, while she and Allan were dancing, she told him what she had seen and…

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…and had been honest with him from the beginning. Blanche had been guilty of flirting with Stanley, as she had always flirted with men. However, being brutally raped by him in the end destroyed her because he was not a stranger. He knew her, he made her face reality, and in a way he exposed her to the bright luminous light she had been incapable of enduring throughout her lifetime.

Works Cited and Consulted

Atkinson, Brooks. “‘Streetcar’s Tragedy.” New York Times (Dec. 14, 1947).

Briggs, Jonathan. “Critic’s Corner”. Clay County Freepress 12 December 1984: 1, 25.

Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will. New York: Bantam Books, 1975.

Redmond, James (Editor). Violence in Drama. Cambridge University Press; 1991.

Williams, Tennessee. “A Streetcar Named Desire”. The Theater of Tennessee Williams. Vol. I. New York: New Directions, 1971.

Feminism Taken to Extremes in A Streetcar Named Misogyny

Feminism taken to Extremes in A Streetcar Named Misogyny

As women’s studies programs have proliferated throughout American universities, feminist “re-readings” of certain classic authors have provided us with the most nonsensical interpretations of these authors’ texts. A case in point is that of Kathleen Margaret Lant’s interpretation of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire in her essay entitled “A Streetcar Named Misogyny.” Throughout the essay, she continually misreads Williams’ intention, which of course causes her to misunderstand the play itself. Claiming that the play “has proved vexing to audiences, directors, actors, readers, and critics” (Lant 227), she fails to see that it is she herself who finds the play vexing, because it does not fit nicely into the warped feminist structure she would try to impose upon it.

Her first problem is with the heroine of the play, Blanche DuBois, who, she claims, is “ironically made guilty for her own victimization. No longer fully human, she is simply a metaphor of all that is vile about women. Blanche cannot, then, claim tragic stature or even our sympathy precisely because she is a victim of rape. And as she becomes responsible for her own victimization, Stanley is left to glory in his ascendancy. This aspect of Streetcar arises from the misogyny which colors the play…” (Lant 226). Admittedly, Blanche does flirt with Stanley briefly at the beginning of the play—just as many women playfully flirt with their brothers-in-law. But as her relationship with Stanley deteriorates, she makes it quite obvious to him that she loathes the sight of him. Though the world in which Lant lives may be one in which a woman, playfully sprinkling her brother-in-law …

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…rry to scrutinize his work and pass judgment upon it, Lant has failed to comprehend the fact that Williams was merely portraying society as he saw it and as he experienced it, no holds barred.

Works Cited

Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will. New York: Bantam Books, 1975.

Dworkin, Andrea. Intercourse. New York: The Free Press, 1087

Lant, Kathleen Margaret. “A Streetcar Named Misogyny.” pp. 225-238 in REDMOND.

Redmond, James (Editor). Violence in Drama. Cambridge University Press; 1991.

Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1985.

Williams, Edwina Dakin. Remember Me to Tom. St. Louis: Sunrise Publishing Company, 1963.

Williams, Tennessee. Memoirs. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc: 1975.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: Signet. Original copyright 1947.

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