A Streetcar Named Desire

Choose from a play, a scene which significantly changes your view of a character. Explain how the scene prompts the reappraisal and discuss how important it is to your understanding of the character in the play as a whole.

This question is in relation to Blanche from the play a streetcar named desire.


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In scene 5, Stanley confronts Blanche about her past. Up until this point I always felt kind of sorry for her, thinking.......... she's a little crazy, maybe needs some meds, maybe just a lost soul who needs a home and people to love her......... how could two sisters be so different? Anyway, she's never been a lovable character....... just a little strange. But you know there's something wrong, even from the start. Stanley has figured it all out, but then again, he lacks in endearing traits......... I am not a fan of Stanley.

After the confrontation, Blanche tries to smooth it over with her sister; Stella knows how to handle her. She goes on an on about being nervous about a date with Mitch and laments her fading beauty. Mitch doesn't know how old she really is; she has spurned intimacy thinking he'll lose interest; she afraid the allusion she's spun will disappear along with the man........... and this you can understand because women in general dread the aging process. But she's not shaking because Mitch might lose interest......... she's shaking because Stanley brought up the name Shaw and she's frightened.

Now the scene........ when the newspaper boy comes to the door, and Blanche attempts to seduce him an immediate reappraisal begins. Blanche is no longer seen as the morally upright, lonely, pathetic woman....... she's a hypocrite and a seductress, and she enjoys seducing young men. “I’ve got to be good—and keep my hands off children,” sets off alarm bells. This is a high school teacher who lectures the world on their behavior and looks down upon most everyone. She has lectured her sister, berated her sister's husband for being common and alienated everyone with her highbrow attitudes and opinions. This scene made it clear (at least for me) that she was nothing like the woman I possibly thought she could be........ she was simply base. Period.

I no longer wondered why she appeared at her sister's home, or why she was told to take a leave by the school. She was forced out for lewd behavior, she had indulged in the promiscuous behavior Stanley had confronted her about, and this is where she lost me.

Maybe, under different circumstances and proper care she would have been different. This scene, and later the birthday scene where Stella reveals Blanche's husband had been a homosexual, Mitch's attempt to really see her, and the rape send her over the edge, but she was going there all along. Blanche was an intricately contrived facade, and when the facade disappeared....... the woman broke down completely.