In What Ways Can You Compare Blanche Dubois and Nora Helmer

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In What Ways Can you Compare and Contrast
Blanche DuBois and Nora Helmer?

Both Blanche DuBois and Nora Helmer are main characters in the two plays A Streetcar Named Desire and A Dolls House. You can compare and contrast the two characters because they do have a lot in common, however, they do appear extremely different at first. A major difference which can be seen straight away is that the two women are living in two different eras; Nora in 1879 and Blanche in 1947.

Both characters are introduced immediately to their respective audiences. Williams introduces Blanche in a long piece of stage directions, describing her appearance to every last detail, whereas with Nora, we find out about her appearance throughout the play. The characters appearances and style are very different. Nora is portrayed at first as a housewife, who dresses smartly, but nothing out of the ordinary for either her time or place. However, Blanche stands out from the environment that she has just entered. Her appearance is incongruous to this setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and a hat as if she were arriving at a tea or cocktail party in the garden district. This appearance uncanny for the location which she has just turned up in which is a working class town. It is as if Blanche is out to impress, and that she is obviously worried about what people may think of her. Whereas Nora in A Dolls House does not have to impress everyone as most of the time she is ‘tied up’ in her home by her husband Torvald.

Blanche is portrayed as upper class, however this is not totally the case, her façade seems to be of this class, however, she is slipping down the social scale, from being an upper class plantation owner, to lowering her self to living in a working class area. This is the opposite of Nora, as her class is permanent; she is a comfortable middle class and is happy with this, as she has the full monetary support of her husband. Nora is on her way up the ‘social ladder’, whereas Blanche is falling down it.

The first word which Nora says is significant not just to A Dolls House, but also links in to A Streetcar Named Desire. She says “Hide that Christmas tree away, Helen.” The word “Hide” is ironic and symbolic and there are a lot of things that are hidden in the play, most revolve around Nora herself. Similarly with Blanche she has a lot of things that she is hiding from her sister. This ties in with another similarity between both plays and both women, that they are both living a lie, not just to others, but also from themselves. Nora’s lying starts also immediately with small petty lies, which lead to bigger underlying ones. “How could I help the cat getting in and tearing everything up?” She claims to her husband that she was making decorations for the Christmas tree, when she was really doing something behind his back, and to mask this, she lied and said that the cat tore everything up. When really, she never made any decorations, but she was doing copying to make some money to repay a big loan, that she has also kept hidden from Torvald. Blanche herself is living a lie, mostly to herself, she keeps her problems hidden from everyone around her, making her very insecure. She seems very nervous when she is around others, and to combat this, she drinks alcohol to calm herself. “Now don’t get all worried, your sister hasn’t turned into a drunkard.” The audience can see that Blanche drinks a lot to calm her nerves, and they also see that she lies to her sister to cover this up. She is living her life in a imaginary world, she wants everything to be the way she thinks, this is why she is often dreaming up scenarios.

Blanche throughout the play is trying to find security, firstly she does this by coming to her sister, then it is even more evident when she tries getting close to Mitch, and when Stella questions her about him.

Stella: Blanche, do you want him?...
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