To Leave, or not to Leave

Published: 2021-07-07 17:15:04
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Category: Culture

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One critic has said that “The very beginning of the play mars Blanche as a scarlet-lettered woman, a recognizable and uninvited outcast, whose indiscrete sexual behavior distorts her image of a teacher as a “[custodian] of culture” (Gencheva 32). This essay will focus on the obvious dependance on men between both Blanche and Stella and the perplexing relationship between both Blanche and Stanley throughout Williams play.Within A Streetcar Named Desire, there is a distinct, reoccurring critique of the restrictions and attitudes America has on the lives of women, including the double standards between men and women and their reputations which is still prevalent to this day. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella and Blanche see the accompaniment of a male as the only way to achieve happiness. Unable to support themselves financially, Stella and Blanche have no other choice than to be reliant on the income from someone else, a man. Blanche thinks that Stella would be better off without her abusive husband, Stanley.“Suppose! You can’t have forgotten that much of our bringing up, Stella, that you just suppose that any part of a gentleman’s in his nature! Not one particle, no! Oh, if he was just-ordinary! Just plain-but good and wholesome, but-no. There’s something downright-bestial-about him! You’re hating me saying this, aren’t you?” (Williams 71). Blanche has a solid point, from Stanley physically attacking Stella to assaulting Blanche, as well as the traumatic emotional abuse the he inflicts upon the two, Stanley seems to lack general decency and moral compass. He clearly either can not understand that there are boundaries between married couples or he simply ignores them so he can act however he wants. One of the few times that Stella does attempt to put Stanley in his place, he demonstrates that he’s the one with a firm grip on the reigns of the marriage, saying, “Don’t ever talk that way to me!” (Williams 107). However, Blanche’s interest in contacting Shep Huntleigh for support financially involves reliance on men as well. “Y’know how indifferent I am to money. I think of money in terms of what it does for you. But he could do it, he could certainly do it!” (Williams 67). When Stella decides to stay with Stanley instead of listening to her sister, Blanche’s advice, she chooses to rely on and believe in him instead of Blanche. This becomes clear when instead of believing her sister about her husband attacking her, Stella instead commits Blanche to a mental hospital. “However, despite all the help she intends to offer her sister, Stella does have a line she will not cross. Either consciously or subconsciously, she is unable as well as unwilling to admit the possibility of rape taking place, even more that her husband was the perpetrator. She relentlessly continues to consider it a figment of Blanche’s already distraught psyche, as she witnesses the tragic end of a life” (Gencheva 40). Stella clearly feels that Stanley can provide her with a far more secure future than Blanche can, which results in Stella deciding to stay with Stanley despite the toxicity of their relationship.Despite Blanche’s genuine caring for her sister’s wellbeing, she too sees marriage as the only way of redeeming herself from her troubled past.“Blanche wholeheartedly believes that she might start a new life with Mitch, merely because the alternative is deficiently repugnant for her, all the more so that she does not even dare enter this part of her psyche, which does not cling to the antebellum chivalry code. She has been taught that male companionship is a woman’s means of survival in the face of social convention. The only social protection she can count on is that of marriage and family” (Gencheva 37). Blanche’s rebellion in her youth has left her with a poor reputation, especially among men. “This is after the home-place had slipped through her lilywhite fingers! She moved to the Flamingo! A second class hotel which has the advantage of not interfering in the private social life of the personalities there! The Flamingo is used to all kinds of goings-on. But even the management of the Flamingo was impressed by Dame Blanche! In fact they were so impressed by Dame Blanche that they requested her to turn in her room-key-for permanently! This happened a couple’ of weeks before she showed here” (Williams 99). Because of this reputation, Blanche isn’t considered suitable for marriage by many men, despite this though, Blanche still views marriage as her only possibility for normalcy and stability. “How strange that I should be called a destitute woman! When I have all of these treasures locked in my heart. [A choked sob comes from her] I think of myself as a very, very rich woman! But I have been foolish-casting my pearls before swine!” (Williams 126). When Stanley tells Mitch about Blanche’s reputation, Blanche heartbrokenly, and somewhat eagerly decides to pursue the next man she can think of, the Dallas dwelling millionaire Shep Huntleigh. “It won’t be the sort of thing you have in mind. This man is a gentleman and he respects me. What he wants is my companionship. Having great wealth sometimes makes people lonely!” (Williams 126). This almost immediate switch of interest between these two men clearly portrays just how adament Blanche is about finding herself a husband, as well as how crucial she feels the idea of marriage is and how desperate she is to redeem herself of her past.A Streetcar Named Desire has many hidden meanings and layers within itself. Despite Stanley and Stella appearing to be the main focus of this play, the real focus is on Stanley and Blanches relationship instead. They are opposing opposites, this was evident to Blanche from the immediate start when she said, “Some men are took in by this Hollywood glamour stuff and some men are not.” Blanche responds, “I’m sure you belong to the second category” (Williams 39). Implying that she is completely aware of their differences and has no intentions of attempting to have any kind of relationship with him despite Stanley being her brother in law. Stanley’s first impression was similar, however Williams made sure it was apparent that he sized Blanche up from the very beginning, “[He (Stanley) sizes women up at a glance, with sexual classifications, crude images flashing into his mind and determining at the way he smiles them]” (Williams 29). This could be interpreted as a subtle foreshadow of Stanley’s assault against Blanche in the upcoming chapters, this also helps bring to light aspects of Stanley’s personality and gives the reader a better understanding of who he is. “From the moment they meet, the sparks fly between this anti-couple; there is no possibility of reconciliation or even of co-existence” (Griffies 113).

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