A Streetcar Named Desire: Blanche's Lies

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Jules

AS ENGLISH

10/03/2011

Blanche's Lies: An Investigation of Paper in A Streetcar Named Desire

And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice. (allpoetry...) In this passage from the epigraph of the play, we see direct parallels between the poem (Hart Crane's “The Broken Tower”) and A Streetcar Named Desire. It could be interpreted from Blanche's perspective; where the “broken world” is her world of illusion in which she has become Allan. Allan is then the “visionary company of love” that she traces, which causes her to make “desperate choices.” These desperate choices shape the play—the lying, the young boys she pursues, and finally, when she makes her most important choice in Scene IX: will she ultimately tell the truth. Because the following dramatic action of the play rests on what Blanche decides, when she decides to alternatively lie or tell the truth, the consequences of her decisions drive the action of the play forward.

Blanche's lies create escalating conflict between she and Stanley, often revealed in his dealings with paper. In fact, when Stanley first physically violates Blanche, it is through paper. In Scene II, in an effort to uncover Blanche's past and subsequent lies, Stanley rummages through her personal trunk, discovering love letters from Allan. When he “ snatches them up, she speaks fiercely 'the touch of your hands insult them!'”(40). Again, the paper is a metaphor for Blanche; here, the paper is not white (“blanche”) but, like Blanche herself, marked, as the letters have writing on them and they are yellowing with age. Blanche considers them dirty when Stanley touches them—foreshadowing the rape. They are private, not displayed for Stanley, but he finds them anyway—as he does later when he exposes her sexual past.

While Stanley does not actually discover Blanche's fabricated...
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