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The Character of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire

Blanche, the main character in William’s play “A Streetcar Named Desire” invokes many contrasting emotions. To analyze one’s emotions concerning Blanche is no easy task, to do so effectively one must break the play into different parts and analyze them separately. The problem with Blanche is that she presents a character so mixed up in her own motives and opinions that one never knows if it is really her or an act she’s putting on. The audience will find itself constantly readjusting its position towards Blanche and the other characters as the play unfolds and we learn more about her story and the reasons behind her inadequacies. Williams makes sure nothing is white or black but grey so that at some moments in the play we struggle to find a reason for her cool manipulation and hunger for power while at others we pity her pathetic life founded on lies and misconceptions. Even when she tries to break up Stanley and Stella’s relationship we don’t immediately brand her as a villain, we remember that if Stella hadn’t left than maybe Blanche would have become what she had wanted to become rather than what society dictated her to become.

When we see Blanche for the very first time we know right away that she does not belong in Stella’s neighborhood, she is “daintily dressed” and her “delicate beauty must avoid a strong light”, she seems in a fairly hysterical state but we can assume that’s just normal since she is “incongruous to this setting”. She seems to be having trouble speaking normally to a black person so that we can already place the origin of her upbringing in the South, probably in one of those enormous mansions that housed rich slave owning white families. As the scene unfolds, the image of the rich, somewhat shelte…

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…e thinking about her and the play they will feel sympathy or at least pity for Blanche. What Williams demonstrates with this play is the power of memories and the ruthlessness of society.

Works Cited and Consulted

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.

The Loss of the Ideal in A Tale of a Tub

A Tale of a Tub is a mass of text seemingly thrown together with the purpose of deliberately confusing the reader, but its digressions upon digressions cannot mask the inevitable theme of loss, which is ultimately found in all of Swift’s works. The satire holds the present against an ideal of past perfection, and the comparison always shows the modern to be lacking. The church adulterates religion; moderns, the ancients; critics, the author. The narrator of Swift’s text seems to believe that the moment a great work or idea is put forth, it can be pure, but will always degrade with time. Because it is impossible to return to this former state, there is a heavy sense of disappointment that weighs down the more transparent wit and humor. The entire tale could be nothing more than a joke, which is aimed at not only the moderns and the church, but the audience as well.1 But no matter how many quips or crude attacks Swift makes, the purpose of the story is not just to laugh at the expense of others, but to mourn the fall of an ideal that can never exist again.

It is impossible to return to an original source in the Tale because it seems as if the narrator holds a model of a linear time-line in his head. As time passes, the distance between each passing moment and the originating point must increase, and any attempt to return to the beginning must fail. Just as it is impossible for someone living in the eighteenth century to return to the first, a man who is taught to be a modern can never think exactly like an ancient. Because of this view, the narrator can almost be seen as a modern-day phenomenologist. This philosophy asserts the impossibility of observing any object as it actually is, since the viewer is separated from the obje…

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…m must fall short of the original. And if his talent cannot be used to add to the glory of the classics, then it might as well be used to condemn the moderns. If all writing is ultimately a corruption of that which preceded it, as the narrator seems to believe, then it is better to write of something that is despised rather than revered.

At times the Tale appears to be nothing more than a prank, due to all of the digressions and unintelligible passages that are inserted. Swift states that he is giving his readers exactly what they want, because mankind “receives much greater Advantage by being Diverted than Instructed,” and happiness “is a perpetual Possession of being well Deceived” (327, 351). Swift views this as the exact problem that is ruining current learning, and puts it under the readers’ nose to frustrate them with the same method they are promoting

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