The character of Blanche is not as one-sided as one might think. While the real-life stereotype on which she is based could be, the play’s representation of the Belle is nuanced. Thus, it is difficult to state whether I sympathize with her or agree that she deserves her tragic fate, but I am inclined towards the former. While Blanche is a highly flawed character, the outcome seemed too cruel for her considering the attempts to redeem herself.
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One of the American drama’s defining features could be its extreme realism, and A Streetcar Named Desire does feel as if the events could happen to anyone. Upon moving in with her sister, Blanche is noticeably bitter about handling everything alone (Williams 26). While later developments may undermine the passage, it shows the reason she went astray. Her husband’s death also played a significant role in Blanche’s moral degradation, as she admits to Mitch (Williams 136). A teacher preying on a teenage student is unjustifiable, and it is reasonable that people would condemn Blanche, but no one tried to understand or console her. Perhaps, it was her fault to initially antagonize Stella, the only person who could help her, but the irrationality is what made the character more human.
Interestingly, most of Blanche’s misfortunes are associated with men, a twist on her role as a Belle. It could be said that she uses sensitive men to achieve certain goals, and once Blanche confronts Stanley, who is immune to her charms, she eventually faces justice (Gandouz 52). The woman is punished for failing to adapt to the new environment, while her sister is so accustomed to the position that even domestic violence cannot faze her (Gandouz 52). However, the question remains if Mitch and Stanley had the moral right to chastise Blanche, as their values are also questionable. Thus, while she deserved a wake-up call, it should have been done differently. Instead, Blanche was left completely broken with no second chances, which makes one sympathize with her.
Gandouz, Olfa. “Transitivity in Tennessee Williams’s ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’” Brolly, vol. 1, no. 3, 2018, pp. 49-55, Web.
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New Directions Publishing, 1947.