Blanche DuBois

When Blanche arrives at the end of the line of the streetcar named Desire she is a desperate woman. She is desperate because she is a fugitive from a society that is deteriorating also. Her background is the life at Belle Reve, one from which she cannot escape without serious consequences. Her tradition made her a woman of importance. She felt secure within the function of her own society. Today that tradition no longer exists. It no longer works in our present society. Blanche, however, must believe in it, for without the tradition of Belle Reve, she cannot live; her whole life hay been for nothing. She holds on to these shreds of Southern respectability, and by so doing she thinks she is performing an act of heroism, rather than absurd romanticism. Even the romantic episode with her young husband, who was tender, gentle, and sensitive, and whose tragic flaw was his sexual perversion, gives stature to her heroic character. She becomes one who is more to be pitied than censured because of her juvenile misunderstanding of her husband's need. By believing in her traditional background, Blanche finds an excuse for a great deal of her behaviour. The present society rejects her as an anachronism, and therefore, makes her feel alone and insecure. When the strength of her belief in tradition weakens, she looks for security in drink and the human warmth of contact with strangers. This is a sacrifice, however, for she must meet them on their terms and forget her own.

Since she cannot fully accept her actions she begins to forget them. She creates a world of fantasy wherein she can rationalise her behaviour as being the result of an unprotected, sensitive and delicate nature. In doing this she avoids facing the reality of her real physical and sensual desires. Her tradition will not allow her to accept such feelings as other than "brutal desire" and to give vent to them is sinful. Nevertheless, she does give vent to her feelings out of loneliness and an agonising realisation that her attraction for men is beginning to fade. She is on the brink of middle age and is desperately in a hurry to find a man. Like most women, Blanche is dependent upon a man for protection, for security, and for love. Because of her background, she also has a great need for someone to defend and maintain her honour. She is looking for someone who does not exist in the New Orleans environment to which she has come - a gentleman. She wants an old fashioned wedding dressed in white with music, poetry, art and people with tender feelings, and not to be held back with the "brute desire" that make such things impossible. So she is constantly in conflict, and out of this comes frustration and a need for protection. That is what a woman of tradition needs, protection from an alien world that is passing her by and to which she is unable to adjust.

That is why she comes to Stella and Stanley. She comes as a beaten individual who is drowning in a mire of degeneracy, but, because she is proud, she must make one last attempt. She, once again, draws upon an impotent tradition to make herself superior. Stanley, mistakenly, interprets her demeanour as a challenge to his basic existence as a man. Because of his strong connection with reality, he is able to destroy her. Blanche, therefore, destroys herself because of her foolish insistence of living with the illusions of the past. In the meantime, however, she has one stroke of luck. She finds someone who needs her as badly as she needs him, Mitch. For a short time she lives in happy anticipation, but her past catches up with her. With no one left to turn to for protection she takes refuge in fantasy. She becomes insane.

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