Character Analysis: A Streetcar Named Desire

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SBlanche’s Madness
Blanche DuBois in Tennesse William’s A Streetcar Named Desire suffers from living in a culture dominated by men, the human condition of desire and the insecurity and madness that follow; sexuality and her self-pressure to maintain self worth are the source of her cast off from society. The madness is launched when she loses her money, family, husband, job, and continues to lose her youthful appearance. Blanche’s insanity can be deemed acceptable from the surface because of her losses, but the way in which Blanche handles her situation oozes insecurity and hints that the loss of sanity is inevitable in Blanche; her insecurity stems from her dependence on men and hergluttony to fulfill her whims which escalates to society’s lack of acceptance.

A true sign of extreme insecurity in Blanche is her creation of a false, dignified persona based on lies. She builds herself a world of fantasy to escape from the troubles that surround her. A symbol of this in the play is the paper lantern Blanche places over the “bare lightbulb” (Willaims 42). She tells Stanley “It’s only a paper moon, just as phony as it can be – but it wouldn’t be make-believe if you believed in me!” (Williams 100). The light bulb of the lamp signifies Blanche’s inner essence and the “paper moon” is the artificial personality she lays on top of herself. This is mainly in attempts to receive compliments and thus assurance of self from the men around her. She goes so far as to admit she was “fishing for a compliment” (Williams 89) from Stanley. Blanche’s total inability to reassure herself is a piece in the puzzle of her impending madness, and a sign of the male dominated and run society of the 1950’s.

The human condition involves attachment and therefore desire; this is a major factor in Blanche’s regression process that she cannot control. Both Stella and Blanche desire freedom, beauty, love and most of all, sex. To satisfy her desire Blanche puts forth her sexuality. As her...
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