We Are Who We Are

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Discuss the idea(s) developed by the text creator in your chosen text the interplay between how individuals perceive themselves and are perceived by others. (June 2012)

If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.” In the following quote by Winston Churchill, explores the idea that individuals adopt their identity from past events but instead one must let go of the past events that have negatively impacted them. But some humans don’t have the power to forget about these events, but instead live a life that is controlled by these events. Although an individuals identity is made up of from their past events, an individuals mind is controlled by either forgetting or renouncing that course of action. The general argument made by Tennessee Williams in his modern play, A Streetcar Named Desire, is that individuals perceive themselves in the way that others would want to perceive them. More specifically, after being the victim of adversity, the character Blanche BuBois acts in a way that she believes what an ideal society would want her to act. Blanche inherited the idea of the “looking glass self” after losing Belle Reve and going through the numerous events that impacted her emotionally. Finally, Tennessee explores how past events shape an individuals identity, causing them to act in a certain way which finally leads them to their downfall. 

Blanche, a character high in class, leaves from Belle Reve after making numerous mistakes and arrives to New Orleans, Elysian Fields. In attempt to restart her life, Blanche Dubois asks her sister Stella Kowalski if she can stay with her and Stanley Kowalski. Blanche had numerous encounters with men, including dealing with a devastating death of her husband and having an affair with one of her students in school; all of which forced her to leave her old life and find a new one, one without imperfections. After dealing with these adversities, she started to act the way she thought that the society, full of penury, would want her to act like. But, this is one’s tragic flaw as it leads them being vulnerable and unprotected since they don’t think straight. Blance, coming from a wealthy family, thinks she runs the Kowalski apartment, Infuriating Stanley as he runs by a strict Napoleonic code. This sets the stage for her downfall as we know Stanley’s man-like behavior, furthermore. In attempt to live a new life, individuals’ past events follow them causing them to make their new life worse.

Blanche lied to everyone in Elysian fields to cover up her past, which causes suspicion in Stanley. Stanley believes she is up to no good so he further investigates Blanche’s precedent. Following the looking glass scenario, Blance hides from her reality, the light, so she stays in the dark to cover up her imperfections as with taking hot bathes and drinking. “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic!” this is what Blanche says responding to Stanley, which arouses more hatred of Stanley towards Blanche. Stubborn, single-minded and adopting hubris are all of Blanche’s tragic flaw. She starts imagining a perfect world that she will pursue with Shep Huntleigh, which shows how individuals can become unaware of reality while trying to live an ideal life.

Furthermore, one’s past events make them want to escape and flee in attempt to pursue a new life. One that will focus on their personal ideals one that circulates around them. Blanche’s continuous sexual desire is another tragic flaw that has made up her identity. But, this leads them to their downfall as the desires start to take control of their mind. Blanche meets a man named Mitch, quickly her desire for sex increases forcing her to start her flirtation. “After all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion…” this quote shows her ambition towards men, which has been the same thing that has made her unsuccessful her whole life; and, the same thing that has lead her to her downfall, madness. But finally, Mitch finds out her imperfections, he turns on all the lights in the apartment and finally sees what she had been hiding. Evidently, causing him to say she isn’t clean enough to come live with him in his house. Once again, her ambition has made her vulnerable and this time an end to her built relationship. Again, when Stanley finds out the truth about Blanche, he arouses more hatred towards her. Finally, when he can’t keep it in, he rapes Blanche causing her to go mad and reach her downfall.

In conclusion, Individuals past events shape their identity and make them view the world differently. They begin to act a way they think that society would want them to. But, this only leads them to their downfall as their brain becomes unstable and prone to committing more wrongdoings. This has been shown through the character Blanche DuBois in Tennessee William’s modern play A Streetcar Named Desire. More specifically, Tennessee explores how individuals perceive themselves in a way that they think others would want to perceive them. This only leads one to their downfall; Blanche first lost Belle Reve making her act in the “Looking glass self” scenario, but this evidently leads her committing more crimes and eventually to her downfall.

 

 

Critical Essay

Discuss the idea(s) developed by the text creator in your chosen text about the role adversity plays in shaping an individual’s identity.

An individual’s identity and way of being is often an insight into the activities that made up their past.  Adversities as well as the positive features have a large impact on the mannerism of that individual.  More often than not, the consequences of hardship faced by a person reveals the true identity of who they have become and why.  Tennessee Williams, author of “A Streetcar Named Desire”, uses the character of Blanche to portray that when an individual is faced with adversity, their identity frequently changes for the worse.  Williams denotes this change through the mannerisms of Blanche when she arrives after her loss of Belle Reve, the shift in mannerisms when Stanley reveals the truth behind her lies, and to where Blanche losses her sense of reality after her hardship faced with Stanley.

As the streetcar named Desire arrives in the slums of New Orleans, Elysian Fields, to drops off an obnoxious and disgusted Blanche, there is an instant juxtaposition between Blanche, a character high in class, and the setting of Elysian Fields.  There was an instant culture shock as she saw the quality of the living quarters.   “They mustn’t have-understood- what number I wanted…” (page 6)  This quote reveals the initial identity of Blanche as snooty and well off, but also distraught about her loss of identity that came with losing Belle Reve.  The role adversity plays in Blanche at the beginning of this play, emphasizes Blanche’s identity as a southern bell set in her ways of being treated as a princess, forced to live among peasants in her mind.  Without the loss of Belle Reve, this southern bell would have remained comfortable in her stuck up ways not expected to change to adhere to the familiar culture of Elysian Fields.

Not only having to adjust to the unfamiliar working class, Blanche also has to protect her identity by not being found out of her covered past.  A famous idea that Blanche bases her identity on is the lies that she uses to keep her life more adventuresome, “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. And it that’s sinful, then let me be damned for it!” This quote taken with the movies attempt to never show her face in full light reveals a deceitful and secretive side to Blanche’s perfection.  However, when Stanley shatters her perception of her ideals and reveals the truth to Mitch, Blanche is forced to adapt her identity again to uphold her idealistic identity, eventually forcing Mitch away from the dreams that they both had to provide for each other.  Seen in the adversity of Stanley revealing the truth, Blanche’s identity is perceived from others as now longer the innocent southern bell that requires protection from Stella, but now to a liar who was too dirty to be accepted into Mitch’s home.  However, her perception of herself never varied through the adversity that shaped her identity perceived by others.

The deceit and continuous flirtation that Blanche portrays eventually leads to the misjudgment on Stanley’s behalf and his decision to take advantage of the seemingly desiring Blanche.  This is a significant turning point in the identity of Blanche as she saw herself as pure and virtuous, but now revealed as the filthy women that everyone else has perceived her to be.  The final misfortune of Blanche juxtaposes the birth of the new baby in Stella and Stanley’s lives.  Babies represent new beginning and a purity only to be shaped through the experiences that he/she is to be exposed to, while the madness that Blanche possesses represents a final loss and ending of a character as well as the rape itself, being the greatest form of impurity to affect one’s life.

 

Through the adversities that Blanche faced in her life, a new identity and perception was formed in the eyes of those who looked upon her.  From a women who got away with deceiving the ones she cared for, to the ultimate destruction of sanity and character leading to the demise of Blanche in the lives of Stella and Stanley.  As seen throughout “A Streetcar Named Desire”, Blanche’s identity often changed for the worse, leaving more broken pieces that she needed to rearrange to fit her latest tale of woe.  No one caring to living the “magic” that Blanche’s lies promised to give.Unknown

Insanity under the Gaze of Strangers

June2012

Discuss the idea(s) developed by the text creator in your chosen text about the interplay between how individuals perceive themselves and are perceived by others.

Dividing the reality of an individual’s character and motivations and how others perceive him or her is a facade that presents an idealized image of that individual. While this phenomenon is used to some extent by everyone, an overuse of this deception can have devastating consequences for the individual in addition to those around them. Blanche DuBois from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is one such character. Though she has an infamous past in her hometown of Laurel, including the seduction of one of her English students, Blanche pretends to be an innocent and refined lady of the romanticized American Old South. Always emotionally unstable, Blanche’s confrontation with a foreign lifestyle as well as the people that come with it only worsens her condition. Through his modern play, Williams develops the idea that as an individual interacts with others that question his of her illusion, the individual will desperately struggle to distort reality until the point of insanity. The opposing perspectives of Stella and Stanley, as well as Blanche’s dishonest relationship with Mitch serve to demonstrate the folly of maintaining a facade so dissimilar to the truth of her character.

Upon her arrival at Elysian Fields, Blanche is immediately drawn to Stella because of her sister’s unconditional love for her without knowing the motivation behind Blanche’s illusion. Though she understands that Blanche is not what she seems, Stella knows how delicate and dependent Blanche is. The extent of her accommodations exemplified when she remarks that she enjoys waiting on Blanche and will make any comment to appease her. As a result of Stella’s careless acceptance of Blanche, she feels no pressure to alter her illusion. In this temporary yet comforting asylum, Blanche continues to delude others as a means of deluding herself until her facade is challenged by Stella’s confrontational husband.

Stanley represents all of the characteristics that Blanche, or at least her illusion, do not have. He is simple and at times primal and animalistic, his actions dictated by “brutal desire.” The most dangerous of his qualities is the intelligence that he exhibits once Blanche threatens his control over his house and wife. Upon their first encounter, he sees through Blanche’s act and understands that she has many secrets from the past. By his nature, Stanley despises the way in which Blanche pretends to be so much more refined and superior to him, and intentionally investigates her past, a topic that makes her anxious to change the subject. When Blanche discovers that a man named Shaw has revealed elements of her past to Stanley, Blanche becomes flustered and only responds with increased deception that renews Stanley’s efforts to make others see the truth about her. It becomes increasingly apparent that the purpose of Blanche’s illusion is to alter the perceptions of others and ultimately delude herself, though she does not realize this. The pressure from Stanley to confront her past serves to destabilize Blanche, and propels her towards a position of emotional vulnerability.

Unlike the roles of Stella and Stanley in reinforcing or questioning Blanche’s act, Mitch’s role in the play changes in a way that parallels Blanche’s emotional downfall. At first sight, Mitch believes that he has found someone he can take home to his mother, and though she may not truly love him, Blanche sees Mitch as a man of stability and refinement. From the beginning of their relationship, Blanche resists Mitch’s attempts to fill the space between them while acting innocent and using her experience as a victim of first love to seduce Mitch. He is fooled by the facade and perceives her exactly as she wishes to be scene until Stanley reveals to him to the unexpected truth of her past. After missing her depressing birthday party, Mitch confronts her to discover the extent of the truth in Stanley’s tale. When she responds by refabricating an even more fanciful illusion, Mitch sees the truth hidden behind Blanche’s act. From this moment Blanche cannot control the falling action of her psychological state as her external illusion turns inward and she is consumed with insanity.

When Blanche fled to Elysian Fields, a place with her sister that she though would be safe, her end had already been determined. Through confrontation with Stanley and an enlightened Mitch, Blanche’s need to maintain a concealing facade drove her to a state of insanity. Only by revealing the truth of one’s character to the closest friends and to strangers alike can an individual achieve internal satisfaction and pursue a meaningful life.

Adversity Reveals More Than What You’d Expect

Prompt: the role adversity plays in shaping an individual’s identity

Adversity effects everyone whether it’s direct or indirect. In some cases, the effect determines who they are and who they will become, which is reflected through their identity. Tennessee Williams explores in his play, A Street Car Named Desire, Blanche Dubois’ capability to handle adversity. Her financial instability incites her to make feeble decisions creating a poor reputation for herself. Nonetheless, she’s able to get out of her predicament, only for a brief period. Tennessee Williams develops the idea that when an individual is faced with adversity one will reveal their true identity in attempt to recreate it.

Blanche believed that she was a young woman with status because of the property she had inherited from her family, Belle Reve. After, consecutive deaths of her parents and relatives, she was left the sole proprietor of Belle Reve. Subsequently, she became the financial bearer for the costs of the expensive funerals, and Belle Reve itself. Her salary as a school teacher wasn’t sufficient enough to pay for the expenses. Respectively, Belle Reve was lost. She had no help financially, since her husband Alan Grey took his own life away, after Blanche made obscene remarks about his recently found homosexuality. This was her first financial hardship she encountered. Subsequently, she was fired from the school she taught at for having a sexual relationship with a seventeen year-old student. This was a way for her to repress her grief as she is comfortable around men, but outcome wasn’t satisfying. Faced with financial woes, she was afflicted with another mishap, now being jobless. Likewise, her reputation in Laurel was suffering too. In desperation, she took residence at The Flamingo Hotel and practiced prostitution to earn money. However, it didn’t last long as the word spread of her shameful behaviour. She was asked to leave the hotel, and Laurel. The financial responsibilities she was struck with led to her notorious reputation which ultimately led to her exile. Having nowhere to go she was given an opportunity to escape her past, and recreate her identity elsewhere.

In order to start new, we look to move into a new environment. Blanche seeks refuge in Elysian Fields, New Orléans where her sister, Stella Kowalski resides with her husband Stanley Kowalski. She explained that she was on vacation, but it was an illusion. Her real intentions were to stay at her sister’s house until she finds anyone suitable enough for marriage. This would give her stability both financially and socially. Her drinking and bathing symbolize how she is trying to forget the agony of her past and trying to cleanse herself from herself from her sins. She wants to start pure like a new-born, which Stanley delivers to her after confronting her. That was a signal to Blanche that she has limited time left to find a husband. Later that night, Blanche runs into Mitch, a friend of Stanley. They began to talk and familiarize with one another, she found him to be “sensitive” and suitable for her. However, the date they went on wasn’t engaging enough as she had desired. In desperation, she was willing to settle down with Mitch. This would be the first step in ensuring her way out of her adversities because it would mean she’d be financially secure, and her identity would be transformed. Nevertheless, accomplishing this task wasn’t easy because Stanley was skeptical of Blanche’s abrupt appearance. The rummaging through his bag symbolized his pursuit to find the truth as the bag represented Blanche’s life. Blanche has to her keep her identity from Laurel hidden to be able to begin a new life, otherwise the truth will be revealed.

People are curious of valuable items, and are interested in how they got them. Stanley is concerned about the expensive jewelry and clothing Blanche has, since she wasn’t capable of retaining Belle Reve. He began to investigate this further because the Napoleonic code stated that all the belongings of woman are also her husbands, which means that he lost money from Belle Reve as well. Initially, Stanley was motivated by the loss, but his motive altered due to Blanche’s nervousness when it came to speak about her life in Laurel. After, he found out about her life in Laurel, and how she had deceived them the entire time. He informed both Stella and Mitch about the stories of her in Laurel, to protect them from her falsehood. Mitch came the night of her birthday to talk about their relationship, because he believes in what Stanley claims to be true. He confronts Blanche and she finally surrenders to reclaim his trust so she can be secure financially. However, by admitting that the stories of her past in Laurel were true was a big mistake because it unmasked the deceptions, and exposed her true identity. Mitch doesn’t want to proceed with the relationship because he isn’t willing to date a filthy woman. Elysian Fields was no longer an asylum for Blanche, like her bag it symbolically carries her impure past. This also displayed her major flaw of dishonesty, which inflicted more damage to her. Near the end, Stanley rapes Blanche. This symbolized how Blanche’s couldn’t be a pure woman because impurities cannot be washed away. She entered and left as a soiled woman. It defined how Blanche can’t change herself even if she wanted to, her past is burden that she carries with her desires. Finally, Blanche’s dishonesty is what prevents herself from re-establishing her identity.

Blanche Dubois fails to recreate her reputation as an honorable woman by covering up the reality of her life through deception and falsehood. Her impersuasible act revealed her true identity and her ability to comprehend adversity. Blanche’s inability to cope with the financial trouble was the catalyst to her miserable life, and essentially her identity. Adversity played a critical role in the downfall of her identity, and showed her weaknesses which she eventually succumbed to. Tennessee Williams in his play, A Street Car Named Desire demonstrates how an individual faced with adversity, will look to escape reality to create a new identity, but in the process unveil their real identity.

“A woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion”

Discuss the idea(s) developed by the text creator in your chosen text the interplay between how individuals perceive themselves and are perceived by others.  (June 2012)

Each individual sees differently. The sight a pair of eyes collects may differ from an alternate set of eyes that look upon the same picture. However, when perceiving oneself, an individual may intentionally alter their perception in order to be accepted by one’s own eyes as well as the eyes of others. In other words, one may attempt to be seen as greater than one actually is by becoming delusional. In such cases, a sense of illusion is created and others must be aware of the false identity that has resulted from the desire to be closer to perfection.  In Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire, Southern Belle Blanche Dubois attempts to escape reality by lying about her identity, however; Stanley, the light, and Blanche’s continuous need for a baths and alcohol bring her face to face with actuality.

The primitive traits that characterize him make Stanley Kowalski a symbol of reality. Throughout the play the audience begins to become aware of his brutality, strength, and rawness that define his masculinity. His abusive nature, specifically towards Stella, displays his brutality and strength while his need for her physical love presents the rawness of man. Although these traits may not be ones that are preferable in an individual, they showcase Stanley’s straightforwardness much like how reality is: absolute and oftentimes seemingly unfair. In contrast to Stanley, Blanche lives in a world of her imagination where she is pure, modest, and respected. Conflict between Blanche and Stanley arises when he becomes suspicious of the sudden loss of Belle Reve and he states, “Open your eyes to this stuff!” (33). When his instincts are supported by others that have heard of her unchaste reputation in Laurel he shares the truth with Stella and Mitchell. In response Mitchell discontinues his relationship with Blanche as he can’t accept her with her past. The reality she has been trying to abandon finds her and proves to be an obstacle in her attempts to create a new perception of herself. The conflict between Blanche and Stanley becomes a conflict between illusions and reality

Blanche hides from the light in the same manner she hides from her past. Just like Stanley, the light is symbolic of reality. When Blanche fell in love with Allan she states falling in love is like “suddenly turning a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow, that’s how it struck the world for me” (120). His love illuminated her world, however, after she caught him having an affair with a man and discovered his suicide she states, “The searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again” (120). Her husband’s death stopped light from entering her world and she started to live in darkness, entertaining men at the Flamingo Hotel. She hides from the light or reality, to conceal her past. In Stella’s apartment, Blanche covers the light with a paper lantern to shield her from the light of reality. Literally speaking, in the dark she can hide her real age and alter her perception of herself and allow others to gain a false impression of her.

While Blanche seems to live in a dream, she is aware of the past she is avoiding. Her time at spent at the Hotel Flamingo dirties her reputation and as a result she bathes constantly to purify herself of her past misdoings and she finds serenity in drinking alcohol as it seems to wash away her worries. This is similar to Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner when Sohrab bathes after being raped as he feels he is now “dirty”. The fact that she consistently bathes allows the reader to understand that Blanche has an identity that is true and cannot be washed away and hidden as she tries to throughout the play. The perception of modesty and purity she holds for herself washes away down the drain along with the bathwater she submerges herself in as she desires perfection.

Perfection is what humans aim for. However, this is an impossible feat; one will always have space to advance and prosper. The perception of perfection itself is an illusion as nothing seems to be exactly as we perceive it to be. The reality is one can never leave a completely clean slate behind them as much as one wishes. As Blanche says, “I don’t want realism. I want magic!” (117).

The Desire to be Desirable

Discuss the idea(s) developed by the text creator in your chosen text the interplay between how individuals perceive themselves and are perceived by others.

Fear, it seems, is a common motivation that controls how people act in certain situations. Situations like committing to a course of action or renouncing it, overcoming adversity, and whether to pursue or compromise their happiness. However, there is a source of motivation in which fear is not a factor; desire through illusion influences how an individual perceives themselves. Blanche, from Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, wanted to be desirable so badly she imagined herself as desirable and began to live in an illusion that people wanted her. This illusion negatively impacts her judgement and blinds her from the truth of reality which makes those around her perceive her as weak and vulnerable resulting in them taking advantage of her. By looking at Blanche’s overwhelming need to be desirable by living her life as an illusion one can see that she believes she is getting stronger when in reality she is confirming others perception of her weakening which is important because as this happens it metaphorically leads to the death of her former life, the death of her former self, and ultimately the death of her mind.

As a young girl Blanche marries, what she believes to be, the love of her life feeding into her need to be desirable which at the time does control her life until she discovers he does not love her in the way she believed he did and is in fact gay. Finding this out affected Blanche incredibly as she began to perceive herself as undesirable causing her to say hurtful words to her husband, leading to his suicide and in turn made him perceive Blanche as heartless and cruel. Witnessing this was the initiating factor leading to Blanche’s instability and so to find stability being desirable by everyone she came in contact with allowed her begin to move on. But, the way she acted did not radiate stability to the people around her thus “Belle Reve should finally be this bunch of old papers” (scene 2) in Blanche’s hands. The life she lived was no longer the same anymore. As Blanche created an illusion to be more desirable she is portrayed herself as fragile.

Going through what Blanche did with the confession and death of her husband was a traumatic experience and there are many different ways to move on after such an experience. Blanche lived in a make believe world that she made up and created. In this world she perceived herself as more desirable to be around. She believed herself to be so desirable that she flirted with her sister’s husband, “fishing for a compliment” and reminding him that she “was once considered to be- attractive” (scene 2). As she did this Blanche gained confidence in who she was, but through her actions Stanley got the impression that she was overconfident, stating that some women “give themselves credit for more than they’ve got” (scene 2). Stanley was very much into reality, stating facts and was not easily swayed by little games. When he confronted Blanche with reality she could not handle it pressing her hands over her ears and shutting down. This gave Stanley the impression that she was vulnerable and used her as a toy for his enjoyment and eventually took advantage of her. Blanche would not have allowed for that to happen before her desire to be desirable took over her life blinding her from the truth resulting in the way she was before coming to an end.

People’s personalities change throughout their lives for various reasons sand most of the time the individuals around them still accept them for who they are, but when someone changes entirely they will be perceived differently. Blanche lived in an illusion, but when that illusion came to an end and she faced reality, it became too difficult for her to comprehend, and resulted in her madness. Life, rather reality, had become a burden that Blanch could not carry because the pretend image she worked so hard to make a reality weakened her mentally. Her madness was in the form of the constant reminder of the song that played while her husband committed suicide in her head, and the desperate need to be clean washing away reality in the bath tub multiple times a day. She used these as aspects of being desirable when her sister Stella, Stanley, and Mitch all viewed these acts as unusual. This caused worry from Stella who encouraged others to “admire her dress and tell her she’s looking wonderful” feeding into Blanches “little weakness” (scene 2). Stella viewed this as a minor downfall when Stanley viewed it as an opportunity to use for his advantage constantly making fun of Blanche and using her as an excuse to be angry. Mitch, who Blanche believed to desire her, perceived Blanche as hurtful because her difficulty to comprehend reality results in her with holding the truth of her life from him. What Blanche thought was desirable only confirmed her madness and provided evidence to send her away in a state of insanity.

Desire leads to death. Blanche wanted to be desirable so badly her desire became a source of madness leading to her inability to have good judgement and blinded her from reality. She lived in an illusion that she was desirable which caused weakness although she didn’t realize it. In her mind she perceived herself as someone of interest- desirable. But what Blanche did not know was her actions caused individuals around her to perceive her as what reality made her out to be: completely mad. The life, the person, the mental state Blanche was before died in her pursuit of what her heart desired most of all.

Illusion vs Reality- A Streetcar Named Desire

“Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.”

Reality vs. Illusion is the essence of the inner struggle in an individual’s life. We can define reality as the state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than as one might wish them to be. Whereas, illusion can be perceived as something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality. In A Streetcar Named Desire, the idea of illusion and how it contradicts with reality is thoroughly discussed.

In A Streetcar Named Desire, the whole theme of reality vs. illusion is driven by the illusion of Blanche and the other characters. The characters in the play hide from their reality by acting as if the events they went through didn’t happen or were not important. The idea of illusion vs. reality seems to come across in that these characters want to “escape” their world, thus escaping reality. This idea is mostly clearly seen through Blanche’s character of fear and decisiveness. Blanche being Stella’s sister, also came from a wealthy background. When Blanche’s husband died and her family members began to die, she spent all she had on their funeral and eventually ended up losing her home. Losing her home played a vital role in that although she was able to confront and devote herself emotionally, she failed miserably by not actually physically supporting herself. She needed someone to come rescue her, just like how we see in fairy tales, but in reality there was no one. She was left with the ultimate choice of only to escape in order to survive.

Blanche is portrayed as an immoral and corrupt woman who has a reputation for sleeping around with different men as stated by Stanley. Blanche wanted to escape her decisive past so she went to visit Stella.  There, she acted as if everything in Laurel didn’t actually happen. This is where her illusion starts to interplay where she describes herself as an old-fashioned woman who was proper and modest. This was not actual the reality, as for her past revealed that she is not what she claims to be. She lives her daily life with illusion in that she doesn’t want the reality to come out because her illusion world is much better. She supports this by stating, “I don’t want realism. I want – magic!”

The way in which Stanley and Stella perceive themselves in A Streetcar Named Desire is totally different from Blanche. Stanley and Stella continuously work hard and are also very successful in it. They live on the basis of reality instead of fantasies and illusions. This has a huge effect on their personality in that they are first true to themselves, and then to others as well. In A Streetcar Named Desire, the idea of illusion and how it contradicts with reality is thoroughly discussed through many characters, but especially through Blanche.

Representation of Light

  • Images of light, both literal and figurative, appear in the play. Find the references to light and describe their significance.

Throughout the play of A Street Car Name Desire, Blanche was always hidden in the dark. Because Blanche was always hidden in the dark, it was hard to see her exposing herself in the light; hence she didn’t want anybody to see how she looked. Blanche puts a Chinese paper lantern over the light so that the light wont be fully exposed. She did this because she didn’t like to be seen in the light,and she’s trying to prevent as much light from being emitted on her by purposely covering the light with the Chinese paper lantern. The bright light represents her young innocence and happiness she once was. Blanche was once a happy and bright individual when her husband was still alive because she was madly in love with him. When Stanley wanted the paper work from Blanche, he asked her specifically what she kept in each pocket. She answered by saying that she had love letters from a certain boy, that was her late husband. Her still having her late husbands love letter shows that she still had that love attachment to him., signifies that she wasn’t always in dim light. Allan committed suicide right in front of Blanche with a gun, which came across as a shock to Blanche because she never understood why he would kill himself. Since he committed suicide, everyday of Blanche life was dark and difficult one to live because she didn’t have anybody in her life that loved her like Allen did. Allen symbolizes that bright light that use to be present in her life was no longer there.

When it comes to Blanches age, she doesn’t want to tell anyone her age because she seems embarrassed to express her age to other people. She thinks that if people realize her true age, she would lose that animal instinct of hers to try to attract a suitable mate of her liking.  If people truly saw whats behind her fake face, they would all go against her. Stanley quickly recognized her flaw and knew that she was a lying, jobless hoe. In the fact of survival, Blanche is trying to stay at Stanley’s place as long as possible because she’s broke and needs a place to stay. Stanley knows this and he’s trying to get rid of her.  She doesn’t reveal herself in the light in front of Mitch, so that he doesn’t see her fading beauty. Mitch, wanted to marry Blanche and he even told her dying mother about her, until Stanley tells him that Blanche had sleeps with other people. This causes Mitch to dislike and not have an interest in marrying Blanche from that point onwards because he thought that she was a virgin who had some dignity. Once Mitch expresses his madness towards her, she seems to dwell further way into the darkness and sadness. Blanche had the perfect opportunity to start fresh again in her life by marrying Mitch, instead of running away from her past realism. Mitch also represents the bright light that missing from Blanches life because he can provide the same love that Allen once did.

I think that Blanche uses her late husband as an excuse to make everybody feel sorry for her. The reason I think this is because she can move on with her life, she just choose the wrong choices and out her self in a situation in which she didn’t need to be. Her name represents a moth, however she thinks herself as a butterfly. Moths tend to go to the light because it helps them with navigation and it also comforts the with warmth. It ironic how Blanche’s name represents a moths and how she is trying to get further away from light, while moths try to go towards the light. I think the rich clothes and jewelry she wear symbolizes her as a butterfly. When you think of a butterfly, you think of the beauty of its colour on its wings. Compared to a moth, butterflies are considered more beautiful. The clothes that Blanche wears on top of herself, to try to make herself look more beautiful is a representation of her hiding her true identity.

In the act for trying to restore that lost light of hers, she has affairs with other men to try to make herself feel better. The light also symbolize her past, as she use to have purpose and dignity, but that seems futile now. When it comes to reality, Blanche tries to avoid it as much as possible because she likes living in her own world. She states to Mitch that she doesn’t want realism, she wants magic. This reinforces how much her light has dimmed and how she just want to run away further from the bright light. Her trapped in her magical thoughts shows how she doesn’t care about reality, as she keeps running away from the bright light. After all the stuff she knows she guilty of committing, she knows that her respect level in the community will drop. People that are known to go in the profession of prostitution don’t tend to have a good name in society. Even after Allen died, her happiness and innocence could have been restored, unfortunately she didn’t know in which method to restore her bright light.

Light: Illumination or Destruction?

Light. It can represent rebirth and purity or the cleansing of an atrocious deed. It can portray the comfort and safety of achieving a goal. It can signify revelation or an epiphany. Light can represent hope in an otherwise dark world. It can symbolize illumination, enlightenment, and warmth. It can be seen as a guide, leading someone towards his or her dreams. It can symbolize the ability to go or having to stop, depending on the color of the light. It can also represent fire and its destruction and ruthlessness. No matter one’s race, sex, ethnicity, social rank, influence, or education, every single person has experienced light. Light is universal. Yet it still has so many varying and different interpretations. In Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche avoids the direct light at all costs, for it is illuminating and exposing, and she has so much she would like to keep hidden. Light represents reality, the reality of Blanche’s age and the vanishing beauty that it brings, as well as her corruption. In desperate attempts to mask this reality, especially from Mitch, Blanche resorts to covering up the light with flimsy paper lanterns.

When one has the need to be loved as Blanche does, insecurities become easy to come by. Because of Blanche’s numerous insecurities, she is extremely self-conscious of her age and appearance, particularly in front of men such as Mitch. Blanche’s obsession with her appearance is no secret; Stella tells Stanley to “admire her dress and tell her she’s looking wonderful,” because, “that’s important with Blanche. Her little weakness!”(pg.31) Stella also says something similar to Eunice later, in attempts to bring her troubled sister some comfort. It is apparent to all that Blanche cares deeply about her looks, which justifies her always trying to keep the reality of them, as shown by the light, hidden. Blanche is terrified of being seen carefully under the light; at the beginning of the play, she exclaims, “And turn that over-light off! Turn that off! I won’t be looked at in this merciless glare!” (pg.11) So deathly afraid of being seen with all of her imperfections and flaws, Blanche does her best to hide from the light. She craves love and the feeling of being needed and she feels that if she is seen for all the she is, in the light, then she will never get what she desires. This is especially important to Blanche when Mitch comes into the picture. In Mitch, she sees a potential source of love and affection, whether or not she feels the same way, and she thinks that if he sees her for what she really is, he will leave. Therefore, Blanche will not let him see her in the light, as light illuminates reality. When Mitch wants to see Blanche in the light, she responds by saying, “I like it dark. The dark is comforting to me.” (pg. 143) This is because nobody can see Blanche in the dark, her imperfections are safe and intact with no light to prove their existence. Blanche deeply desires a man’s love and dependence on her the way she depends on love. Therefore, because she believes that she will not get what she so strongly desires if men see her true appearance in the harshly exposing light, she hides from it. However, that is not enough to keep her safe, the light also illuminates the reality of Blanche’s past, giving her another reason to hide from it.

Nothing can be hidden when examined under direct light, even Blanche’s deeds of the past. It is as if the light has the ability to uncover the truth behind Blanche’s façade, something she has carefully crafted and attempted to maintain. However, slowly and surely light is being shed on Blanche’s truth, as much as she tries to avoid the light. Blanche tries to keep the truth hidden for however long she can, she exclaims, “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth.” (pg. 145) However, her inaccurate façade of “ought to be” truths wavers at every interaction with light until it is completely diminished. Blanche becomes overcome with paranoia at those around her learning of her past, because that is something she would not be able to bear. ““I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action,” she says. Blanche’s desire to be loved and needed drives everything that she does, and because her past would destroy any chance at her attaining that desire, Blanche cannot stand the idea of her actions coming to light. However, the reality that light brought along with it was not always a negative one that Blanche was always wanting to escape from. At one point, the light illuminated something exquisite, amazing, and new to Blanche, love. “When I was sixteen, I made the discovery – love. All at once and much, much too completely. It was like you suddenly turned a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow, that’s how it struck the world for me.” (pg.114) Looking back years later, this reality is still something Blanche wants to escape, however, at the time, it was magical. Light represents the illumination of reality for Blanche, and used to be something she embraced, but became something she longed to escape from.

In her attempts to attain what she desired, Blanche would cover up the lights with a paper lantern. This symbolizes her façade, as she would try to cover up reality, but her attempts were flimsy and transparent. Blanche is fully aware of the false reality she is creating, in fact she does it purposefully in her attempts to gain what she ultimately desires, love. She says, “I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman’s charm is fifty per cent illusion, but when a thing is important I tell the truth…” (pg. 41) Yet Blanche continues to lie and lie to protect her precious façade to possibly receive the love that she so greatly desires. The paper lanterns are used to make something ordinary and unappealing look magical and beautiful, which is what Blanche is trying to do for herself. However, dressing something up and changing the exterior does not change what is underneath, and therefore is ineffective. This can be seen by the fact that once the paper lantern has been pulled off and just the bare bulb remains, the same goes with Blanche. Once Stanley has torn off her façade and revealed what was under it the entire time, only the true reality remains.

Light is a versatile, unique symbol that has been experienced by every single person on the planet. Because of this, there are various interpretations as to what light could represent, as it holds different meanings to different people. Light would mean something totally different to a lost traveler following the north star, trying to get home than to a convicted prisoner trying to avoid the searchlights in his attempt to escape. Light can mean hope or freedom, but it can also mean destruction or captivity. In A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, light represents reality and the truth. However much so Blanche tries to cover up the reality and truth of her past and her fading beauty, she just is not successful. Light is powerful; it can provide comfort and warmth, a clear view of a distant goal, or, in Blanche’s case, the destruction of the one thing allowing sanity.

 

Led By Desire

When we are tempted by something or someone, we desire to go after it and obtain it. However, sometimes the case is that we do not obtain what we desire and end up losing it. Desire, for what I believe, can be seen as a positive or negative thing.  If you go after what you desire it can make you happy, but if your desire turns into obsession it can ultimately end you in the end.  Those who restrain their desire look for a way of escaping it. Desire can be a dangerous flaw that can lead a person to their demise if not controlled properly. In, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams shows us how desire can lead to a person’s downfall or toward their victory. Blanche is a person that tries to suppress her desire through her way of escaping. She thinks she suppresses her desire when in truth it is what leads her from her teenage years to her becoming a woman and staying in Elysian Fields.  Her desire for her young husband led her to not see the signs of her husband loving another. In fact, her desire acts as a cloud in front of her eyes. It clouds her better judgment and pushes her to come out of reality and stay in her illusions. Blanche’s loneliness pushes her to enact intimate meetings with other men after her husband’s death because for her desire to be not alone. Not only does she desire to have men, but she also acts out to have an affair with a seventeen year old boy.

Blanche does not only feel the sexual desire but also the desire for her to stay young and beautiful as she was when she was younger. She is the epitome of a Southern Belle that represents innocent, beauty, and fragility; all which time has taken away from her.  Her desire to appear fragile in front of everyone shows her need to forget about all her past mistakes that taint her as not fragile and innocent. Blanche’s image is ruined by Stanley because he is the only one who is able to see past her façade and show her for who she really is. He is the one who shows Mitch and Stella for who Blanche really is. She is what we would describe as promiscuous and manipulative. Her desire to appear as a modest woman in front of Mitch proves her to be a manipulative woman who only wants comfort from Mitch and does not see him as anything more than that. She does not feel any passion from him but desires to stay with him as she is not independent. Her desire to push away from being weak and dependent also makes her look for support in Mitch as she has lost her family, husband, and Belle Reve.

tumblr_m9dzf9XfQD1r2omp9o1_500In the end, Blanche’s desire to stay in her illusion rather than reality pushes her to become insane. In her illusions, she is perfect and it allows her to be happy. It helps her escape the world in which she lives in. What others do not see is that around her she has lost everything. Her illusions help her see her as the young and beautiful sixteen year old girl she had once been. Those were her happiest times when she got the first taste of desire for love and happiness. Her desire to stay in that time period makes her vulnerable to everything around her in her reality. This leads her to stay in her illusion where no one will hurt her. Ultimately, Blanche who explains that she has never been led by desire has succumbed to it her whole life. Desire in, A Streetcar Named Desire, shows us how desire can make us impaired. It leads Blanche to her downfall and not her victory. Desire is a powerful thing that either drives us or ruins us. It is the person’s job to lead it and not be led by it or we can be forced to a similar fate as Blanche’s. In her famous words, “I don’t want realism. I want magic!”