Title: Desperation and Hypocrisy
Scenes 5 and 6 perpetuate the ever increasing tension of the plot and reveal the audience more about Blanche's intricate personality. Firstly, I would like to highlight this exchange between Stanley and Blanche, in which the Blanche brags about belonging to the "Virgo" or "the Virgin" zodiac sign, which symbolizes her pretentious view of herself as pure, chaste and innocent. Stanley, then proceeds to surprise Blanche with the mention of a "somebody named Shaw", whom Blanche met "at a hotel called the Flamingo" (Williams 77). Stanley acidly shatters Blanche's self-image and foreshadows how he is one step ahead of her. Furthermore, Blanche also shares her intent "to deceive" Mitch enough to make him want her (Williams 81). This is a heavy commentary on gender roles, and how women are expected to mold themselves towards men's preferences. I connected this to the movie "The Ugly Truth", in which a young woman enlists a womanizer to help change her in order to seduce another man. Some interesting aspects of Scene 5 is the row Eunice and her husband have which parallels Stella and Stanley's fight previously, and how Blanche bizarrely throws herself to the newspaper guy. I guess Williams is really keen on illustrating the abusive relationship cycle.
For scene 6, I would like to highlight Blanche's reveal of what happened to her former lover. Homosexuality! Suicide! Drama! The characterizations of Mitch and Blanche are so opposite yet so complementary. He is basic, yet sweet and Blanche is erudite, yet needy.They both see the light in each other, which is comforting but doomed to fail. On an unrelated note, Blanche asking a dumbfounded Mitch to sleep with her in French was a comic highlight.
On a metafictional level, I think the introduction of Scene 5 is worthy of comment. Blanche is essentially writing fiction in a letter which juxtaposes with her existence as a fictional character.
Question: Do you think Tennessee intended the audience to realize how Blanche's misrepresentations of reality mirror his job as a creator?
The white firefly
Scenes five and six have surprised me with their strong sexual connotations in the lines of the characters. Blanche is trying to justify Stanley’s behavior by his astrological sign to what she says “I bet you were born under Aries. Aries people are forceful and dynamic. They dote on noise! They love to bang things around”(Williams 76) The connotation made by Blanche has a double meaning as it could refer to Stanley’s violence or as it could have a sexual denotation. Without a doubt Blanche is still trying to keep the appearances. Is interesting to note how Blanche is always trying to be busy doing something, like the letter she writes at the start of scene five. Blanche writes a letter lying about what she has been doing over the summer. The fight between Eunice and Steve can denote that these kind of violent fights between couples are normal, at least in that region or New Orleans. There is recurrent reference to alcoholic beverages in the play as Blanche and Stanley are seen drinking several times.
Blanche’s flirtation is clearer in scenes 5 and 6 as she flirts with Mitch and a young man collecting papers. Blanche reminds me of Lolita, as she seems to be very innocent she isn’t because from past scenes we could have already noted that Blanche is just playing the victim that are evidenced with the lies and exaggerations that made her worth of the Drama queen title. Just to make clear my connection of Blanche to Lolita is that Blanche could have been corrupted just as Lolita to live a life that now she wants to occult. Also, Blanche is very similar to Lady Macbeth as she is kind of obsessed with the idea of being clean.
Blanche refers a lot back to the lightnings, like the candle or even why she placed a paper lantern over the light, Blanche gives this explanation while she has a conversation with Stella “I never was hard or self-sufficient enough. When people are soft—soft people have got to shimmer and glow—they’ve got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and put a—paper lantern over the light… It isn’t enough to be soft. You’ve got be soft and attractive… “(Williams 79) Blanche in this monologue is giving a bit of herself, she is explain why she dress with white colors. The butterfly could be seen as a symbol to the delicate part of Blanche that is reflected in her clothing, as it also justifies her flirty attitude that she mentions to be like a kind of defense or even a way, so people can like her. Why Blanche is hypocrite and truthful at the same time? I’m still asking my self, what is the meaning of the light over Blanche’s life? Why is she so obsessed with lightning? Why is she lying to people that are far way from her? Like what’s her point in doing that?
Blanche obsession with light makes her like a delicate firefly that produces white lightning.
"Truths and Lies Revealed"
During chapters 5 and 6 many truths are revealed though still, lies still lurk. Blanche's deceitfulness is characterized right from the beginning of chapter 5 as Blanche herself states "Myself, myself for being such a liar!" (William 74). There is also a character foil created between Blanche and Stella. In the first chapter Blanche referred to herself and Stella by saying "the blind are leading the blind". While Blanche's blindness is because she doesn't know where to go, Stella's blindness is one of ignorance. This is enhanced as as Stella answers Blanche's "Myself, myself for being such a liar!" with a simple "Uh-huh" (William 74). I can relate these sisters to George and Lenny from "Of Mice and Men" where George is malicious and Lenny is bluntly ignorant.Furthermore Blanche's lies are emphasized when she characterizes herself as pure when she states that "My birthday's next mont, the fifteenth of September; that's under Virgo" (William 77). Virgo referent to virginity shows Blanche;s desperation to mask herself as a respected, educated, civilized lady. Ironically the truth is later discovered by Stanley and enforced by Blanche herself as she tells her story to Mitch. Also, I personally found it ironical that the only man that Blanche ever loved was an "improper lover" since he is homosexual. I believe that the intention behind William's choosing of a homosexual dead lover is to show that Blanche is not the type of girl made for a romantic life. Her truth is revealed to herself after her "lover" - which in fact was not a lover given that he could not love her - died. After that she immersed into a life of dirty sex and one night stands with men.
Now that I read chapters 5 and 6, I have two questions:
1) Where will Blanche's lies lead her?
2) Where will Blanche's and Stanley's relations lead them to?
The Perfect Brazilian Soap Opera
Scene 5 starts out by further emphasizing women`s submissiveness and gender roles in the late 40`s. Instead of portraying this through Stella and Stanley, as happened in prior scenes, this time the author uses Eunice and her husband Steve. They enter into a heated rant that ends up with both sides hitting each other as expressed by Eunice, "you hit me! I`m gonna call the police" (Williams 75). However, just a few moments later, Eunice and Steve re conciliate and they "go slowly upstairs in a tight embrace" (Williams 78). The author wants to show that women in general were submissive, not only Stella. Through this passage the reader can infer that it was a cultural aspect of the 40`s for women to be treated inferiorly by men and expected to deal with it. Stanley, Stella and Blanche were present during their fight and didn`t react to it, treating it as a normal thing. In scene 6 there is a huge personality clash between Mitch and Blanche, and surprisingly enough they are able to get along and even feel affection for each other. Mitch is so naive and delicate that he did not notice that Blanche is trying to trick him as she admitted to Stella, "I want to deceive him" (Williams 81). Blanche is the complete opposite from naive and I wonder why she wants to get involved with Mitch. Will it serve as an excuse for her to stay in New Orleans and will it work out? This relationship between Blanche and Mitch reminds me of modern day cases where a woman marries a man not because she feels anything for him, but because of his assets or for her own interests. This play could become a great Brazilian soap opera due to the amount of adultery, drama and fights it contains.
Finally the mystery of Blanche's past is revealed! Seriously, if there is a lesson that can be learned from this play is don't judge people, because you don't know their past (and don't be submissive, and many more lessons, but anyway...).
Blanche "gives a piercing cry" when coke spills on her "pretty white skirt". She is then "slowly recovering", while saying "I know--gently--gently..." (Williams 80) The stage directions with the piercing cry and the slow recovery emphasize her trauma, and one can imagine her hands shake and her voice shiver as she enters such a chaotic state because her white skirt, which symbolizes a purity she wishes she had, gets stained. This reminded me of Lady Macbeth, in Macbeth, when her clothes stain with wine and she, haunted by her past, sees it as blood on her dress and cries out "OUT DAMMED SPOT, OUT I SAY!"
Blanche's encounter with the unnamed 'young boy' in scene five serves as a reflection of Blanche's past, with her deceased young lover. She calls him young a total of FIVE times, in just two lines, and to emphasize the relevance of his youth, the character is named "The Young Man" during the few moments he appears in. Then she states "I've got to be good--and keep my hand off children" (Williams 84), which shows how she no longer feels young and beautiful and now refers to young boys as 'children'.
Mitch's character is portrayed as somewhat childish, not in the sense that he is immature and reckless, but in the sense that he lives with his mother and has a certain young naivety. He speaks in brief sentences, while Blanche speaks in lengthy paragraphs, and that shows the nature of their relationship, with her being the older woman and Mitch being the young boy who has yet a lot to learn (even though he has his own scars from past relationships, but they don't run as deep as Blanche's). For instance, when she asks her "Can I--uh--kiss you--goodnight?" (Williams 86). He is ASKING her for permission to kiss, while hesitating after every other word, with a childish uncertainty.
How are the Blanche's past relationships different from the one she is pursuing with Mitch? How are they similar?
Falling into Place...or rather, Out of Place
I usually enjoy reading a bunch of posts before posting my own, because I love answering great questions, agreeing and disagreeing with people, but this time I was rather annoyed; every original thought I had come up with was stolen by someone else! Hahaha, anyway… Bernardo, I liked how you pointed out how Stanley shatters Blanche’s self image by mentioning the guy named Shaw and Hotel Flamingo; it is in this moment that Stanley beings putting his plan in action, which we knew he would do after scene four, where he overhears Blanche describing him as a brute. Blanche, of course, realizes this and explains to Mitch: “That man [Stanley] will destroy me, unless – “(Williams 68). The “unless–” left unexplained in the end of her phrase indicates how Mitch symbolizes her hope into preventing this destruction. That being said, I disagree with Leo when he said “Mitch is so naive and delicate that he did not notice that Blanche is trying to trick him”. Blanche is not trying to trick him, he truly does represent hope to her (and vice versa); they share this feeling of loneliness which creates a strong sentimental bond between them. When she says “deceive” she means hide her true self which shames her as to please him, for marrying him is her only opportunity for a brighter future. This does not mean she is doing this without any caring sentiment to him whatsoever. Ah, notice how I intentionally used the term “brighter future”; in scene six we become familiar with the fact that the symbol of light does not only symbolize Blanche’s fear of revealing her true self, but there actually is a concrete trauma linked to her affection to darkness. For her, light is associated with love and, the moment she lost her lover, her world became a darker place. Mitch then becomes her hope for a future with more light, even if not as strong. With this, I have to disagree with Ceci’s theory on what the light symbolizes. It is important to keep in mind that Blanche is not obsessed with light, but with the lack of it. Oh, that reminds me: did anyone else find it ironic how, earlier in the play, Blanche had asked Mitch to place the paper lantern in the naked light bulb and now he was the one who tore it off?
Also, I personally enjoyed these scenes especially because they demonstrate explicitly the author’s fondness for the use of symbols; the spilled coke in Blanche’s white skirt, the zodiac signs, the cherry soda that the Young Man mentions (which probably has some sexual connotation)…
The Skeleton In Her Closet
Scenes five and six are significant to understanding the direction in which this story is heading because they are scenes dedicated in their entirety to Blache; an enigmatic and mysterious character with a serious drinking problem. Much is revealed about Blanche, who is becoming ever more complex. The most striking revelation in these scenes is Blanche's obsession with youth, the concept of, and actual youth. This is revealed when she confides in Stella her fear of her age and how she needs to "deceive" others into thinking her younger, and when she desperately avoids Mitch's question of "how old are you?" (Williams 93) Her obsession with youth is also revealed to be sexual, through her impulsive actions at the end of scene five. Blanche becomes infatuated with a young newspaper boy, exclaiming, "Young man! Young, young, young man!...Come here. I want to kiss you, just once, softly and sweetly on your mouth!" (Williams 84) In this scene Blanche's id acts up and she is overcome by her desire towards a younger man. This desire is linked to her past; to her former marriage to a young boy like the newspaper boy. The traumatizing effect of finding her young husband dead, brains scattered, on the floor scared her for life. Possibly Blanche is stuck in that past. Before that moment she was pure, in love, and happy but since she never been. Blanche even admits to Mitch that after the incident "the searchlight which had been turned on the world turned off again and never for one moment has there been any light that's stronger than this - kitchen - candle..." What she means by this quote is that the world, to her, lost is beauty at the moment she saw her dead love, after that incident the "light" went out of her life.
Blache can be compared any kid that has been through a traumatizing ordeal, or a soldier coming home with the infamous post-traumatic stress disorder. After a severely traumatizing experience any individual will never be the same person, no matter how hard he or she tries to go back to the way things were. Blanche is one of those people trying to become the person she once was. The way to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder is not to pretend like the event did not happen, but to confront it and try and find a way to move past. Blache is not trying to move past, she is stuck, and likely has never attempted to truly sit down and face her demons. For change to occur for Blache she will likely need a push of some sort, likely from Mitch or Stella.
What kind of event would traumatize you? Why do you think so?
The Blinding Light of Desire
Justice, I think you are right on when you highlight Blanche’s obsession with youth and relates that to her hiding her age and to the Young Man. I also liked how you compared the newspaper guy to her lover. When she starts telling Mitch how she lost the person she loved, she starts by stating, “He was a boy, just a boy, when I was very young girl. When I was sixteen, I made the discovery – love” (Williams 95). She is obsessed with youth, as the repetition of the term “young man” on page 84 exemplifies, because youth is related to her past, when she was young herself, and to how the “blinding light” of love struck her dark world (Williams 95). Her chasing after and then kissing the Young Man, which I think it is unsuitable to say she became infatuated with, indicates that she does in fact want to relive the past and that she is tendentious to be blinded once again by passion.
Hence, I agree with Julia that for Blanche, “light is associated with love”, but I wouldn’t say quite love, but desire. I believe light symbolizes the lust and intense passion that ironically blinds people and eventually leads to one losing oneself. Blanche covers the light because she doesn’t want to go through all the suffering caused by such desires. She wants to hide that shameful past. On page 87, based on personal experience, Blanche reinforces this interpretation as she states that “a girl alone in the world, has got to keep a firm hold on her emotions or she’ll be lost” (Williams 87). This state of lost caused by Desire traumatized Blanche and almost led her to destruction. Therefore, I hypothesize that she will once again be overtaken by her id, her desires, but this time will end up in the Cemeteries.
Furthermore, the fact that Blanche wants to be seen as young and pure is symbolized by her use of the color white and emphasized as she states she is Virgo, “Virgo is the Virgin” (Williams 77). Oh, on a side note, responding to Julia, cherry is a vulgar slang used to mean virgin.
Blanche’s fixation with desire, which I believe will trigger her destruction, reminded me of a film named Obsessed in which a girl named Lisa falls in love with a guy that loves someone else. Lisa does everything to seduce the guy, which eventually leads to her destruction as she dies in the end. Will this also be Blanche’s finale? Why does Blanche hide her age? Are the reasons she presents on page 81 real? Why Williams uses the term “neurasthenic” on page 85? Does Blanche like Mitch or she only wants to use him? Is Blanche in fact stuck to her past? And is she trying to move on (with Mitch)?
Title: Frank Deception
And so the truth behind Blanche is unraveled, or at least part of it. Much is still shrouded in mystery, I suppose.
Beyond the gay lover who committed suicide, what surprised me most about this part of the book was the manner in which Blanche was honest about her deception with others when talking to Stella. The reader can guess that Blanche is somehow deceiving her sister, hiding things from her, yet she still speaks of deceiving others with her! For example, when talking about Mitch, Blanche says, "What I mean is- he thinks I'm sort of- prim and proper, you know! I want to DECEIVE him enough to make him- want me..." (Williams 81). Her whole image is based on deception. She uses illusion as though it were another hand. She uses the light to help create misleading shadows that only serve to suggest. She hates having the light on her, hates having people see her clearly. She reminds me a little bit of the wicked witch in the Little Mermaid. The wicked witch disrupts the happy relationship of the innocent little mermaid with the prince through an illusion. She uses this illusion to seduce the prince, much like Blanche uses her own powers of seduction and illusion on men (such as Mitch and Stanley). Yet even being so dishonest, both Blanche and the witch are surprisingly upfront about their objectives and ways. The witch turns into a monster and is not ashamed of revealing her true intentions. Blanche pretty much comes clean to her sister; practically admitting that she is a liar and that she is hiding some things. This is done through her frank admission that she wants to deceive both Mitch and that rich guy she met once more. She's rather honest and naiive in her deception. Blanche is definitely still innocent in some ways. She, like everyone else, is just trying to survive in this cruel world.
Is Blanche going to completely break down and officially go insane or will Mitch help her get back on her feet?
How horribly will Mitch suffer when Stanley has sex with Blanche?
Will Stella really even mind when the above happens? It seems that adultery is commonplace here.
The Obscure and Tragic Past
Finally! Blanche's past is revealed! In Scene 5, her encounter with The Young Man is actually a foreshadowing for her telling us her young love. Throughout her talk with the Young Man, Blanche reveals a certain interest for the boy and starts talking flirty with him, and she even got to a point in which she tells him that he "makes her mouth watery" by lightly touching his cheek and smiling (Williams 84). Here, Blanche mentally returns to her juvenile times and recalls the love of her life when she was sixteen. However, she then returns to reality by noticing that she aged and she is no longer a teenager, meaning that she can't be with teen boy, by telling the young boy to "run along, now, quickly! It would be nice to keep you, but I've got to be good- and keep my hands off children" (Williams 84). In the following scene, Blanche meets up with Mitch, and their conversation lead Blanche to reveal us her obscure past, as it was foreshadowed by the Young Man, which she was "attracted" to. Sadly saying, Blanche's past love as a total disaster. I really felt sorry for Blanche after she finished telling her story, as for the fact that her lover was homosexual and died at the end. As Marcus said, it seems like Blanche is not the kind of woman who was born to live a romantic life. After making this conclusion, that Blanche is not a romantic life style person, will Blanche's relationship Mitch workout? After finishing telling the story of her past, Mitch asked Blanche, "You need somebody. And I need somebody, too. Could it be - you and me, Blanche?" (Williams 96).
After reading Scenes 5 and 6, I immediately Blanche to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series' character, Snape. Just as Blanche, Snape has an obscure past, in which a tragedy happened (the death of his beloved one), and he keeps it to himself for a long-time period. And again, just as Blanche, it seems like Snape is not meant to have "a romantic life" style.
The Light and the Shadow
• Not always where there is enough light, people will decide to be faithful to their passed occurrences and personalities. Blanche was one of them. Continuously through the acts we read, we see that Blanche is desperate for attention, however she is hesitant to being exposed to strong stage lights. She only seems to feel confortable with baby blue lights, or total darkness as she insists to be living based on the reflection of her shadow. This is definitely evident when in act five Blanche plays the victim and says to her sister that “soft people” such as she, “have got to shimmer and glow- they’ve got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterflies wings, and put a paper lantern above the light… It isn’t enough to be soft, You’ve got to be soft and attractive. And” she “is fading now! She doesn’t know how much longer she can turn the trick” (Williams 79). She says that when she is emphasizing to her sister how worried she is about Stanley’s discovery of her past and how she cares what people will say of her, especially when she thinks that she will be seen as too old to find love once more.
Furthermore, the notion of “baby lights” and “butterfly wings” enhances the concept that Blanche wants to be seen as young and harmless, differently from what she was on her past. She does not want to be affected by the light now. The last time to which she was exposed to the light, the love of her life killed himself and turned her glow away. As she explained to Mitch at the end of act six, “When I was sixteen I made the discovery –love (…) It was like you suddenly turned a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow, that’s how it stuck the world for me”, until her ex-husband killed himself, “And then the searchlight on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that’s stronger than a kitchen’s candle” in Blanche’s living (Williams 96). Thus, this explains why Blanche only likes to be exposed to shadows and baby blue lights, because only a part of her identity, the part of which she is good and sweet is apparent. The part of which she desires to hide her secrets through her fake and material shadow. She is hesitant to show all of what she is as once her searchlight “had been turned off”. Through this light metaphor, we can see that Blanche prefers to live away from turning herself completely as once she was tremendously hurt. Tenesee Williams, uses the symbolism of “light” to try to show people, such as Blanche, that puts on fake appearances as they are afraid of opening their hearts and dealing with their past devils. People create a new personality of themselves. It’s just like looking at yourself in the mirror, and not quite understanding what you see in your reflection. However, will Blanche finally open herself once more? What is it about her age that she is afraid of telling? Can this light metaphor have a connotation of expressing the good and evil in everybody?
One connection I could make was with Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Grey”, where Dorian makes a deal with the devil to be young forever. Just like Blanche, Dorian wanted to maintain an image to conceive a part of him he desired to repress which is aging. Both characters seem to worry about time, as age is an issue, and both struggle with their personalities and the images they want to convey of themselves. Another connection I could make with this personality repression was with of a scene in the movie “Inception”, where there is a moment when Ellen Paige creates in her dream an image of a mirror of which when she looks at herself and touches her image, the mirror shatters together with the reflection that she projected. This reminds me of the idea of the relationship between light and shadow of which Tennessee establishes in the play. Blanche seems to live based on the reflection of what she projects on her shadow, however it will come a day in which all that fakeness she hides under the “baby blue light” will shatter as a “blinding light” will shine on her true personality.