The Real Blanche DuBois
The moment Blanche DuBois, Tennessee William?s central character in A Streetcar Named Desire, enters the small New Orleans apartment that Stanley and Stella Kowalski share, one can sense exactly what Blanche is, or at least what she chooses to be. In appearance, she is a glamorous, ladylike aristocrat, who is perhaps slightly nervous. She parades about the house as if she is a regal figure, wearing elegant gowns and delicate jewelry. However, this is merely a fa?ade. Although Blanche was once a kind, normal, sweet girl, her very being has deteriorated. Now, all that?s left is what she struggles desperately to maintain on the outside.
It is obvious, even as Blanche desperately attempts to imitate a respectable lady, that there is something terribly wrong with her. She even admits it in Scene One:
"I want to be near you, got to be with somebody, I can?t be alone! Because ? as you must have noticed ? I?m ? not very well (page 23) . . ."
Although Stella Kowalski, Blanche?s sister, is not entirely informed of Blanche?s past, she does not think much of Blanche?s above statement. After all, Stella reasons, Blanche always complains of such things; it?s nothing to worry about. In any case, Blanche is doing all right besides her comment; she appears to be very happy, not to mention gorgeous. Then she meets Stanley, Stella?s husband. Stanley, in all his straightforwardness and honesty, seems to pose a strong threat towards Blanche. Blanche DuBois, as the reader soon discovers, has created a sort of glass cube around herself, for protection, and people such as Stanley threaten to shatter that glass cube by learning her secrets.
When Blanche has been staying with the Kowalskis for several weeks, she meets Mitch, a friend of Stanley?s. In Mitch Blanche sees everything she has hoped for, everything she thinks will bring her back to a normal life. When Blanche was a girl, she wanted the things all young girls want: love, a husband, and a family. Then her young husband committed suicide.
"Then somebody caught my arm. "Don?t go any closer! Come back! You don?t want to see!" See? See what! Then I heard voices say ? Allan! Allan! The Grey boy! He?d stuck the revolver into his mouth and fired ? so that the back of his head had been ? blown away (page 96)."
After that, Blanche began her descent into madness. After realizing that she would never have those things she had always wished for, she began to create them out of herself; she began to fabricate lies so complex that even she believed them. Blanche begins to date Mitch and he falls in love with her; it?s as if Blanche?s dream might finally come true.
Then all is lost. Stanley figures out Blanche?s secrets. He informs Mitch of Blanche?s former self-employment as a prostitute. Suddenly everything begins to fall around Blanche just as quickly as she has built it. Mitch realizes that Blanche has been deceiving him and looks down on her true impure self. It is now that Blanche completely unravels. One feels intense pity as Blanche sinks into the void.
In the end, Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire is a tragic figure. All she ever desired was a good, clean life. What she acquired was pain, illusion, and a barrel of complex enigmas buried in the deepest catacombs of her soul. One can only be relieved that Blanche finally emptied her closetful of secrets and came clean. Whether she ever actually got what she wanted or not, at least her torture - and ours - finally came to an end.