The mastery of a writer can make the readers sympathize for the characters’ destinies and their overcoming many difficulties in life according to the writer’s intentions but in spite of the traditional opinions and prevalent public’s visions. Blanche DuBois is the main character of Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire (1947). Blanche is depicted as a woman who cannot find herself in the life after the series of the problematic situations, and her slow downfall leads to the mental illness. Blanche is inclined to lie and hide the real facts of her life, some aspects of her story can be discussed as dramatic, and her reputation is rather notorious. However, the readers feel a kind of sympathy for the character of Blanche because her nervousness is the result of her husband’s death, Blanche’s lies are affected by her life perception, the morally wrong actions are caused by her seeking for support, and in many cases Blanche is only a victim of the situation or of the public’s opinion.
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Blanche is challenged by a lot of problems after her husband’s death. Moreover, many people discuss the woman as guilty in the man’s death. The pressure of the situation and the public’s opinion along with the grief and financial problems make Blanche helpless and nervous. As a result, Blanche loses her family’s mansion and herself in the struggle with the society. Blanche’s grief depends on her love for her husband, and the readers have many reasons to believe in Blanche’s fair feelings and emotions. Reacting to the public’s opinion, Blanche states, “I loved someone too, and the person I loved I lost” (Williams 113). The reader can understand the role of the beloved husband in Blanche’s life analyzing all the dramatic consequences of the woman’s loss. From this point, the reader is inclined to feel sympathy for Blanche because of her loss and because of the woman’s helplessness in front of the life collisions and problematic situations. Blanche is too tender and innocent to cope with all the problems independently. From this point, Blanche is a real woman in her behavior and attitude to life, but such dramatic events as the losses of the husband and home made her not only nervous but also shelterless.
Blanche DuBois experiences the problems in her communication with Stanley and Mitch because of her lies. The main argument which is used by these men to develop their opposition to Blanche is her lies and attempts to hide some facts connected with her private life after the husband’s death. However, Blanche’s lies are often innocent and reflect her perception of the reality. For instance, the woman does not speak about her real age because she does not want to believe in the fact that all the people become older. Moreover, men do not like those women who are ‘over thirty’, and Blanche states, “they think a girl over thirty ought to – the vulgar term is – “put out”… And I – I’m not “putting out”. Of course he – he doesn’t know – I mean I haven’t informed him – of my real age!” (Williams 95). Blanche can also lie about the problematic situations in her life because it is easier for her to reject the reality than to cope with it. The problem is in the fact that Blanche is inclined to believe in her lies. That is why, the reader does not perceive Blanche’s lies as the intentionally hidden truth. The woman’s behavior is only her way to adapt to the life which is full of challenges. Furthermore, observing Blanche’s impossibility to determine the real life and her imagination, the reader can feel more sympathy for the woman’s helplessness.
Blanche has a lot of affairs with different men after the death of her husband. Some persons along with the characters of the play can discuss such a behavior as morally wrong. However, the reader has no reasons to consider Blanche’s affairs as the evidence of her immorality. Blanche fairly explains the causes for her behaviour, and she stresses, “I had many intimacies with strangers. After the death of Allan—intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with”, and Blanche adds, “I think it was panic, just panic, that drove me from one to another, hunting for some protection” (Williams 146). From this point, Blanche’s affairs are her attempts to find the support in the figures of many men, but the problem is in the fact that the public is inclined to see only negative aspects in such women’s behaviors.
Blanche evokes sympathy because she is depicted as the victim of the circumstances. All the woman’s wrong steps are associated with the definite collapses in her life. The reader can justify Blanche’s actions from the point of her impossibility to react to the situations adequately. Moreover, Williams accentuates Blanche’s character as a victim at the end of the play when the woman is raped by Stanley. Blanche becomes mentally ill because she cannot cope with the shock. The readers are inclined to sympathize for victims. The last words of Blanche also provide some grounds for justifying all the woman’s previous strange actions and behaviors. Blanche reacts to the doctor’s kindness saying, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” (Williams 178). Depending on the kindness of strangers, Blanche rejects taking the responsibility for her own life. On the one hand, this approach is perceived as wrong because it leads to the character’s downfall. The characters of the play do not feel any sympathy for Blanche because they do not understand such a vision of life. On the other hand, the reader can understand the pain of Blanche and her attempts to change the life situations. Thus, Blanche is the victim of her own innocence and irresponsibility.
Should the reader sympathize for Blanche DuBois? Following Tennessee Williams’ representation of the character, many readers discuss Blanche as an innocent woman who experiences a lot of difficulties in her life and who is the real victim of the circumstances. However, should the reader justify the actions similar to Blanche’s ones when the person is not the play’s character, but the real figure? If the reader can easily find the justification for the woman’s many affairs with different men according to the text of the play, the public opinion toward such persons is not so kind. Moreover, the lies presented in the play are perceived as a kind of innocent fooleries when the real deceit is often left without any justification. That is why, the reader can sympathize for fictional Blanche DuBois easily, but the possibility to sympathize for Blanche as the real woman is rather questionable.
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2004. Print.
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