This paper mainly focused on the character and social origin that caused the tragedy of Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire written by Tennessee Williams. The personality of Blanche is one of the author’s fantabulous creations.
On the one hand, Blanche wanted to go after a new life and true love; on the other hand, she was not scared of confronting the fact of life. The division of her individuality led to her tragic fate. Blanche was a victim of two vicious systems: feudalism of the old South and capitalism of the rejuvenated union. The moral standard and value of life made her incapable of doing something. She regarded men as the anchor for her life and lacked resolution to live in the society. Finally, she was dropped by men as well as the society. A Streetcar Named Desire proposes an incisive comment on the way institutions and manner of postwar America imposed restrictions on women’s lives, and also demonstrates the embarrassing situation of Southern women in contemporary society.
The play A Streetcar Named Desire depicts the degeneration of a Southern beauty whose name is Blanche Dubois. Blanche, who was formerly a teacher, arrived at New Orleans and look for shelter to her sister Stella. Blanche is scornful of her sister’s living environment. Blanche’s insolence aroused the immediate hatred of her sister’s husband named Stanley Kowalski.
Stella left her patrician family to search for the sexual satisfaction gained from Stanley, and even got pregnant with his child. At poker’s night, Blanche unconsciously annoyed Stanley. Stanley cast the radio out of the window and also hit his lover Stella hard. However, Stella came back to Stanley and hugged him with passion as he cried and called for her forgiveness.
The next morning, Blanche attempted to persuade Stella to stop her relation with Stanley. But Stanley was wrong with hear their conversation. He began to make an investigation on Blanche and knew her notorious past. And this had made Blanche depressed.
When Blanche’s relationship with Mitch was progressing, Stanley informed her disreputable past to Mitch and Stella. Mitch chose not to forgive Blanche and finally left her. Blanche was mentally collapsed. At that time, Stanley committed criminal assault to her and even sent her into bedlam.
Williams had used a perfect plot line in A Streetcar Named Desire which is constituted by “opening situation”, “complicating circumstances”, “apparent success”, then “the flaw discovered”, “thickening clouds”, “sudden catastrophe”, and “after math”. To a certain degree, a person’s personality could decide his final fate. The contradiction in Blanche’s personality results in her difficulty in adjusting to the so-called “complicating circumstances”. She made a virtual world that can disguise the “flaw” and created an illusion of “apparent success”.
But when her “flaw” was exposed, Blanche got a “sudden catastrophe”. From this perspective, this play could be seen as a spiritual tragedy and the “complicating circumstance” had caused the heroine’s tragedy. The “flaw” is an obvious and a permanent feature of Blanche. She could not avoid this feature despite the fact that she had been trying to create a new life for herself. It is the society that finds her “flaw” and makes her to suffer the pain again. Therefore, to some extent, Blanche’s fate can be called the tragedy of society.
Her tragedy stems from her contradictory character and the cruel society.