Symbols and Motifs in
B Y M O L LY A N D R O R Y
Symbol of Light
Literally means – Blanche’s obsessed with her appearance,
worried about aging as she’s older than she tells Mitch.
Metaphorically means – the dark light hides her ‘dark’ past and personality. She has many ‘dark’ secrets in her life. The lantern is a symbol of her covering up her ‘dark’ parts of her personality and past, then as Mitch rips it down in scene nine it symbolises him ripping down her lies and seeing the
‘true her’ in the bright light.
The stage directions in scene one describe Blanche as a
“moth”, this links to her obsession with the light but also that could she be attracted to tragedy like a moth is to light?
Blanche’s intolerability of light means that her grasp on reality is reaching the end.
Symbol of Blanche’s Trunk
Symbolises and foreshadows Stanley’s
aggressiveness towards Blanche “pulls” and
“jerks” show his physical strength
Also shows Stanley’s suspicions of Blanche and
Stanley exposes the truth about Blanche by finding
expensive clothes “you think she got them out of a
Also discovers the papers and insists on reading
them, this shows his early signs of dominance over
Blanche and foreshadows the end of Scene Ten.
Symbol of Drunkenness
Both Stanley and Blanche drink excessively – shows
similarities that could contribute to the power struggle
between the two characters.
The difference is Stanley drinks socially and to celebrate the birth of his child – on the other hand, Blanche drinks in
secret, as a way of redrawing herself from the harsh realities to create better ones, like her ‘getaway plan’ with Shep Huntleigh.
Both character’s drinking habits lead to destructive
behaviour, Stanley commits domestic violence, Blanche
Stanley wins the power struggle over alcohol as he can regain himself and his life after his drunken interludes whereas
Blanche’s are her gradual departure from sanity.
Motif of Bathing
Throughout the play Blanche is regularly
She says that these baths calm her down but
we know that they are an attempt to cleanse
herself from her illicit past. (Interestingly
after Stanley beats Stella he goes for a
shower and returns remorseful)
Blanche also takes baths because she wants
to appear younger than her age, good looking
and well presented
Motif of the Polka Music
Used as a technique to show the audience
what Blanche is thinking – about her
husband’s death, guilt, etc.
Represents Blanche’s loss of innocence.
As it plays when her mental stability is weak,
it suggests that the death of her husband was
the beginning of her mental stability decline.
Blanche hears the polka music whenever she
panics or looses her grip on reality.
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