Scene 7 is characterized by the revelations made about Blanche by Stanley to Stella. He reveals compromising facts about Blanche`s life prior to her surprising appearance at their house in New Orleans. While Blanche is bathing, Stanley informs Stella about Blanche`s bad reputation in the town she came from, as he expresses, "she`s practically told by the mayor to get out of town!" (Williams 100). This quote leads the reader to think that Blanche used to get involved in all sorts of trouble and secret affairs in order to reach such a low reputation that the mayor invites her to leave town and be considered "one of the places called 'Out-of-Bounds'" (Williams 100). Later on, Stanley reveals an even greater secret to Stella, as he states, "a seventeen-year-old boy-she`d gotten mixed up with!" (Williams 101). This revelation not only shocks Stella, "making [her] sick", but also petrifies the reader since this fact matches with the story told by Blanche to Mitch in Scene 6, where she falls in love for a young boy, This connection increases the significance of Stanley`s allegation and leads the reader into believing him. Stella, on the other hand, wants to believe that all Stanley is telling her are lies, as she says, "it`s pure invention!" (Williams 100). It is evident that these statements had an impact on Stella which makes her look at Blanche with different eyes. However, Stella does not want to see the truth and decides to maintain her trust on her sister. Ironically, as Stanley and Stella are having this revealing conversation, Blanche is singing in the bathroom, "but it wouldn`t be make-believe if you believed in me!" (Williams 99). The author emphasizes Blanche`s persuasiveness, which proves why Stella is trying so hard not to believe in Stanley`s words. The author gives Blanche a right of response to Stanley`s accusation even when she is not part of the conversation, and all she has to say is to believe in what she says. This situation reminded me of the expression "sleeping with the enemy" because one never knows a person`s true intentions. Your closest friend or relative can be your worst enemy and this is what seems to be happening with Stella and Blanche. After reading this scene, some questions aroused: are the accusations towards Blanche valid? Is Stella going to believe in it or will her affection with Blanche mask the reality?
Sorry, I forgot to include a title so here it it: "Revelations"
The Mask Goes Down
As a response to Leo's first question: "Are the accusations towards Blanche valid?" I truly believe that, even though Stanley made these accusations, they actually are valid. We all know that Stanley is a very revolted and acts impulsively, as he did when he hit Stella and asked her to come back to him, however, Stanley is a person who wants to be certain of what he's saying as he told Stella, "Honey, I told you I thoroughly checked on these stories!" (Williams 100). Stanley then tells Stella the secret, in which Blanche has being hiding from everyone. The secret for which she has being avoiding the light. The secret in which she has being taking so many baths and has being wear white the entire time. However, now, as a response to Leo's second question, "Is Stella going to believe in it or will her affection with Blanche mask the reality?", I believe that Stella will indeed believe in what Stanley is saying until a certain extent, until she has some kind of concrete evidence, in which she can believe in. It was really clear that Stella was extremely stressed out about the circumstance, that she asked Stanley, "Take me to the hospital" (Williams 112). Stella, since the beginning, has shown the readers that she is always trying to be neutral in the relationship between Stanley and Blanche. She is always defending Blanche to Stanley, and vice-versa. However, after this event, will Stella's relationship with her sister and her husband, remain the same? Will she continue defending one to the other, or will she rebel herself towards both?
As Phony As It Can Be
Throughout Scene 7, very interesting character developments occur through the simultaneous dialogue between Stella and Stanley and Blanche's melodic bath. Firstly, Stanley finally shares with Stella the reasons why he distrusts her and the "pack of lies" she has been feeding them (Williams 98). Stanley states that Blanche engaged in "all kinds of goings-on" at the Hotel Flamingo, which heavily implies promiscuity (Williams 99).Then, he reveals she was not returning to teach because she got mixed up with a 17-year old boy. This exposure of Blanche's past is juxtaposed with the bath motif, which represents Blanche's urge to "wash out some things", making the scene all the more compelling (Williams 97). Furthermore, the lyrics Blanche signs to, "it wouldn't be make-believe if you believed in me", play into her aura of deception and enhance the gravity of Stanley's revelations. I also connected these lyrics to "Everything and Nothing" by Jorge Luis Borges, since they can be interpreted to be the fundamental human ritual, that of hiding behind a mask. Hence, this is a very complex scene with multiple levels of meaning achieved through the juxtaposition of antagonist characters' actions.
For scene 8, I would like to highlight Stella's dependence upon Stanley. The scene ends with him taking her to the hospital, "supporting her with his arm" (Williams 112). Williams' stage directions, per usual, highlight the physical aspect of her dependency as well as the internal. Moreover, as the play advances, Stanley's brutish cruelty was bound to alienate Stella in some way, but their ties, propped up by physicality, remain strong.
Question: Does the song Blanche sings about fakeness create a metafictional dialogue connecting fiction with real life?
The pink little candles
In scene seven, Stella seems to be affected by the supposedly “lies” Stanley, tells her about Blanche. This means she kind of already knows or believes in Stanley without him knowing. I observed an interesting recurring appealing made by Tennessee Williams along scenes 7 and 8. The recourse that Williams used to refer back to animals I doubt that was on purpose, but was rather accidental since I have yet found a justification for the subtle relation of Blanche to a hotel named Flaming, where Stanley allege her residence in that hotel. Also, Blanche mentions she loves parrot stories and tells one about a misbehaved parrot. The interesting is that the parrot went to sleep as he was covered with a blanket, what means he went to sleep as soon there was the absence of light. This connects back into Blanche’s “lightning “ problems and the recurring mention of lights. Then Blanche calls Stanley of pig that would also count as one of these references, but this one I believe was in purpose in order to represent the animal and brutal side of Stanley compared to a pig.
In scene eight, Stanley talks with Stella about how things were between then before Blanche’s arrival. Stanley mentions to “get the colored lights going with nobody’s sister behind the curtains to hear us”(Williams 109) In this part is kind of obvious that Stanley is making a sexual reference about her, but is still interesting how the author linked it with the lightning or symbolism of light. But anyways in still confused of the symbolism of light. What does it mean? Why does it seem to affect all main characters? Connecting back with the lighting symbolism, Blanche mentions that the candle for her cake are pretty candles and that she doesn’t want to burn them to what she makes a dramatic reference to lightning but this time about Stella’s baby, “You ought to save them for baby’s birthdays. Oh, I hope candles are going to glow in his life and I hope that his eyes are going to be like candles, like two blue candles lighted in a white cake!”(Williams 109) First of all, wow! What Blanche said there is worthy of Daisy Buchanan! It sounded like one of Daisy lines about her daughter ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
The phrase that Blanche and the simile she uses about the baby’s life sounded so fake. It sounds like a reflection of Blanche’s frustration about her life, so maybe she is trying to express her own disapproval and disagreement with her way of living in hope to have a brilliant and different future for the baby.
In Scenes 7 and 8, we learn some valuable and polemic information about Blanche’s past. The image of a pure, scrupulous, sweet, fragile and delicate girl that Blanche tries to portray, and which Stella chooses to see, is further deteriorated as Stanley reveals to Stella Blanche’s hidden recent past. Besides having a well-known negative fame in Laurel for having relationships with various men, Blanche was fired because of “A seventeen-year-old boy – she’d gotten mixed up with” (Williams 101). How scandalous! Furthermore, we learn from Stella that Blanche has always being capricious and frivolous, as she stated that, “There were things about my sister I don’t approve of- things that caused sorrow at home. She was always – flighty” (Williams 102). Even though Stella refuses to believe in what her husband tells her, she recognizes that Blanche is not “All this squeamishness she puts on”, as Stanley stated. (Williams 98). The purity, morality, and puritanism that Blanche portrays is no more than a deception, since her past was full of promiscuity. This reminded me of a Brazilian soap opera, Avenida Brasil, in which a girl called Nina discovers the dark past of a woman she hates, Carminha, and then reveals it to her family members who loved her. Moreover, in regards to Blanche’s past, Stella also states, “You didn’t know Blanche as a girl. Nobody, nobody, was tender and trusting as she was. But people like you abused her, and forced her to change” (Williams 111). In fact, Blanche was once the image she fakes, but she involved herself with sexist and brutal men like Stanley who subverted her. Notice how Stella uses the word “abuse”, which is very strong and has a negative connotation, and attributes it to people like her husband, which is extremely ironic and hypocritical of her part. Hence, Stella is quite aware of both Stanley and Blanche’s true characters but d pretends to be blind and be deceived by the mask Blanche puts on. It is easier not to deal with the hard truth.
Question: To what extent was Blanche’s husband similar to Stanley? Who is deceiving who?
The Way Things Were
In scenes seven and eight the Stanley and Blanche's inevitable confrontation finally takes place. Armed with truth Stanley tears off Blanche's deceitful mask of lies. Stanley finds out from a friend that in Laurel Blanche has an infamous reputation; she has been sleeping around quite a bit, even going as far as getting involved with one of her students. Stanley shares his new discovery with both Stella and Mitch. By dirtying Stella's image of Blache, Stanley consolidates his grip on her and gives their lives together a push back to the idealized "way things were." By telling Mitch the truth about Blanche, Stanley gives Blanche, a woman he despised from the beginning, the finishing blow, pours salt on an open wound and cuts of her retreat at the same time, though claims he does it out of friendship to Mitch. Stella's faith in Blanche dries up, but her love for her sister remains, or rather the love for the person Blanche used to be. Reminiscing Stella tells Stanley about the former, delicate Blanche, "You didn't know Blanche as a girl. Nobody, nobody, was tender and trusting as she was. But people like you abused her, and forced her to change." (Williams 111) Blanche is damaged, even Stella, a most trusting and oblivious person, knows and does not deny it. Stella's acknowledgement of Blanche's precarious state is a milestone that indicates how dire Blanche's situation is. Blanche's journey will surely only be going down hill from here.
Blanche could be compared to Icarus, a boy who flew too close to the sun with his wax wings and fell from the sky to his death. The sun which the boy flew towards would be the "magic" which Blache seeks. Icarus' fragile wax wings that allow him to fly, would be the lies that support Blanche's facade. Blanche has told too many lies trying to reach the "magic" that she cannot find in life, she has reached too for the unreachable, gotten to close to the sun, and is now falling.
Why does Stella stay with Stanley knowing he is the type that "abuses"? Will the thing that the two of them have last? Can it possibly?
*she has reached too far for the unreachable,
Back from the Dead
Scenes 7 and 8 are imperative to the play as they explain what was unexplained and create the grand opening for the ending of the play.
Leo, when Blanche mentions a young boy in Scene 6, she does not mean the student she got involved with, but her young husband who committed suicide. Of course these two things are connected as, after her husband died, Blanche began seeking for other men’s attention because of the remorse she was feeling. I liked how you pointed out that Stella does not want to see the truth about her sister, as this goes back to Blanche’s statement in the beginning of the play about “the blind leading the blind”, especially since the song Blanche is singing not only expresses her persuasiveness as you mentioned, but also her desire to live in a fantasy world. It is also interesting how, while Blanche is singing about a make-believe world, the realistic Stanley comes home with a complete report against her; he is a person who cannot tolerate illusion or make-believe, he likes his “cards on the table”. This thus enhances their character foil. Also, as Bernardo mentioned, it is extremely ironic how Blanche is bathing to wash away her dirty past, while Stanley is exposing it to Stella.
Ceci, you mentioned how the brutal side of Stanley is compared to a pig, however I believe that a pig is actually being used to describe Stanley a filthy. This filthiness is very clear through actions such as telling Mitch about Blanche’s past only for vengeance and buying a ticket to the city of Laurel; he could have bought the ticket to anywhere else. Notice how the Varsouviana begins playing the moment Blanche sees the ticket. The music not only enhances her predicament, but also demonstrates that she is now in the verge of being trapped in a situation which will equal the death of her young husband.
About light as a symbol, Ceci, for Blanche light not only represents reality and revelation, which is what she’s trying to avoid, but it is also related to the death of her young husband. It is interesting how light was a form of love for Blanche, and an innuendo for Stanley.
Finally, I would like to comment on Bibi’s remarks on how Blanche was subverted by “sexist and brutal men”. Indeed, Stella mentions that” Nobody, nobody, was tender and trusting as she [Blanche] was” (Williams 111). Thus, perhaps, Blanche has also been the type who was unfit for the world of reality.
And this takes me to a doubt that has been troubling my mind for quite a while: Who is Blanche? Is it fair to define her by the mistakes she has done in her past? If she was in fact “tender and trusting” ended up committing gaffes due to remorse, wouldn't it be correct to consider how she realizes those mistakes and tries so hard to be this pure person she was before?
*to describe Stanley as filthy
The Bag of Lies
It’s unbelievable how someone can be so fake, and yet so innocent in the most disgusting, unsympathetic, and annoying way. BIanche has indeed out done herself. Her lies are too big to be washed by her long paths, and just like me, Stanley can’t STAND THEM NO LONGER!!!!! In act seven, Williams finally decides to allow Stanley to reveal, in a mocking way, all of “Dame Blanche’s” lies (Williams 100). The tone used by Stanley when referring to Blanche is crucial to understand how he views Blanche, and how he has no respect for her regardless of the fact that she is his wife’s sister. It is evident, as Stanley was explaining to Stella as she placed candles on Blanche’s birthday cake, that Blanche “has been washed up like poison” (Williams 100). The word “poison” precisely symbolizes Blanche’s past wrong doings, as dating one of her students, being called crazy and behaving inappropriately when living in the Laurel. Therefore, because of this “poison” that stings Blanche’s skin, she takes constant baths as a psychological complex of getting herself clean from her past mistakes. Thus, this explains why Stanley has constant hostilities to Blanche’s baths, due his rejection of Blanche’s fake purification. He averts them as he hates these lies, and desires to get rid of her to be once more sexually confortable with his wife. As he says in act eight that “Goddam, its hot in here with the steam from the bathroom” (Williams 109). As seen in the quote prior, Stanley sees that regardless of the fact that Blanche wants to become pure, in the end she is no better than he is: ‘an ape’ and ‘commoner’. He seems to want to get his revenge for the constant remarks she makes about his actions and origin, thinking that she is better than him.
When I first read this chapter Blanche’s personality, reminded me of a character from “Anna Boleyn’s diary”. Differently from all the movies that are shown of her, in the book, Anna seems at first to talk proudly about her wrong-doings, until she, just like Blanche, sees them as “poisons” that can damage her changes of being Queen. She starts acting naïve and childish, which at first seem like an act, but as she progresses with this act, she starts to believe her own lies of being pure. Another connection I made was with that of Edna in “The Awakening”. In many ways Blanche’s childishness remind me of Edna’s; as both of them are women that are not afraid of embracing their sexual desires.
In act seven, as Blanche is singing, there is a line from the song, which is “But it wouldn’t be make-believe if you believed in me” (Williams 100).
Is this a paradoxical metaphor to Blanche’s desire of being seen for her purity even though she is admitting to herself she isn’t? If this were true, why would she be so happy? Is she aware that she is no longer pure? Is she starting to believe her own lies? Is Blanche’s happiness while singing this song juxtaposing Stanley’s spiteful accusation about her personality?
A Little White Lie
Once I started reading these two scenes, I couldn't stop until I finished the whole book. The ending is extremely unsatisfying. There is no cathartic moment, I did not like it, not one bit. But that's not the point. My point is that perhaps this post is a little biased due to my knowledge of the ending.
Whilst reading this, what shocked me the most was the juxtaposition between Stanley's accusatory declarations of truth and Blanche's sung wish for lies. Stanley's accusations suit him: both are frank, aggressive, and slightly cruel. Likewise, Blanche's song suits her; the fact that it's a song matches Blanche's need for illusion and wayward way of saying things. Furthermore, the lyrics voice her desires, the ones that she cannot say in prose and seriousness- that she wishes to continue living in her world of deception, and that she wishes others would believe her. "Say, it's only a paper moon, Sailing over a cardboard sea- but it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me" (Williams 99). It worries me that Blanche wants to believe her lies. If the liar starts believing his or her own lies then the truth is completely forgotten, and the person starts going crazy. Is Blanche deluding herself? Is she losing her sense of reality completely? Are things no longer make-believe if everyone believes in them? Is the truth still the truth if no one knows it? Can lies become truth if everyone believes them to be true? It’s just like that old saying- “If a tree falls in an empty forest and no one hears it or sees it- has the tree still fallen?”
On a separate note, if everyone did indeed believe Blanche’s lies, then perhaps no one would have to suffer. She would marry Mitch, he would help her sort her problems out, she would keep him happy and in love with her pure girl illusion, and Stella and Stanley would be rid of her in the house. In that particular moment, there was no need for truth- except to hurt poor Blanche. I like to compare it to a little white lie, or lies. It’s the old “No, you do not look fat”. Everyone is happier because of it and it doesn’t harm anyone to continue believing in it.
Another thing I noticed is that Stella and Stanley's child is born on Blanche's birthday. Earlier that same evening, Blanche had said to save the candles that were present on her birthday cake for the baby. I believe it to be the first time Blanche has really talked about the baby. What does this mean?
One last comment!
The exchange between Mitch and Blanche is quite interesting. In the beginning, Mitch is in power and Blanche acts submissive. This is when there are still lies. Upon discovering the truth, however, Blanche is the one in power and Mitch becomes submissive. She forces him out of the house, a great contrast to her ushering him in before.
Furthermore, I cannot believe he was going to try to have sex with her after all of this.
Carry On My Wayward Blanche
These scenes were painful to read, because of the truth in Blanche's past, which is somewhat her fault, after all, she did not have to get involved with a seventeen year old boy. However, the options that life gave her were not plentiful, and she is now filled with resentment. Something I found ironic was when Stanley regarded Stella's relationship with Blanche as one filled with blindness from Stella. He says "And you run out an' get her cokes, I suppose? And serve 'em to her Majesty in the tub?" (Williams 97), as if it is absurd that Stella would support her sister, who she feels very close to and is very fond of. However, he thinks that Stella staying with him is a healthy relationship, while their sisterly relationship is not healthy enough for his 'standards'. Canary birds, little innocent birds, are mentioned a few times in scene 7 by Stanley, who regard Blanche as "Some canary bird, huh!" (Williams 98), because although she disguises herself as an innocent Southern Belle, he can see through her façade.
Something that bothers me in this play is the general treatment of men towards Blanche. When she acts all saint and pure, she is seen as fake by them, and when her dirty secrets are revealed, Mitch takes advantage of that, as if she took pleasure in being treated that way by anyone. As if, because she had engaged in such affairs in the past, she was a 'slut' and a toy that anyone could play with, no consent required.
I was reminded of the song "Memories", by Panic! At the Disco, which has a part that reads:
"It was beautifully depressing/ Like a Streetcar Named Desire/ They were fighting for their love and started growing tired."
The streetcar named Desire is 'beautifully depressing' because it is tempting and lustful, but leads to a streetcar named cemetery, which is the death of dreams and reputations.
Do you guys feel any differently towards Blanche now that her secrets seem mostly revealed? And just how reliable are the facts told by Stanley, since everything in this play is some what biased, since all facts and opinions are stated by characters, and not an omniscient narrator?
Dirty Little Secret
I believe that the reference Blanche's to baths in this scene is extremely ironic because its symbolizes Blanche's cleaning of the soul, however this scene is where fate takes a turn upon herself by leading a promiscuous life. Her baths are seemingly a way of drowning her past, and a attempt for a fresh start, however Stanley finds out about Blanche's past. In this scene however there seems to be a character reversal. Blanche starts to seem a victim of Stanley's animal like desire of destroying Blanche's reputation and Stanley seems cruel, to a whole new extent. Also the lyrics of the song which Blanche sings completely represents the situation at the time as "Just as phony as it can be / But it wouldst be make-believe / If you believed in me.” By this she is indirectly telling Mitch not to listen to what Stanley, insinuating that she isn't phony, that the stories are.
Agreeing with Marcia, there is also a role reversal between Blanche and MItch. In the initial scenes, Blanche seems superior to MItch, more as a temptation and Mitch as an awkward ... bear, as he's described previously. Now, since Blanche is dependent on Mitches desires, he is on top now. I can connect there role changes to the film American Beauty. Through the movie, the main character Lester, goes from a submissive miserable husband to an extremely radical, and superior in the relationship. Lesters wife in the begging who is depicted as a villan, almost repressing him, later on is victimized, and seems to suffer from his change.
Does anyone believe that Blanche is a victim of her past? That she has an excuse of being the way she is?
Even the whitest dress can be stained
The book has now reached its climax. Stanley "found out" about Blanche's hidden pass. The innocent and pure image she portrayed, is no more. The most interesting thing about it though is not that Stanley finds out about Blanche's past but actually, how Stella reacts to it. (What- contemptible - lies!" (William 99) is what she states after Stanley describes how Blanche truly lived in Laurel. To me at least, Stella hesitates when saying those are lies, and this pause is what makes the difference. It seems as if Stella already knows deep inside how her sister is. But she tries in vain to deny these truths and to believe her sister is in fact a pure innocent person. Why would Stella want to deny these truths instead of believing in them and try to find a way to help her sister? Furthermore the fact that Stella does know about Blanche's pass, or at least seems to know is emphasized when she states “There were things about my sister I don’t approve of- things that caused sorrow at home. She was always – flighty” (William 102) Stella - as observed from the quote - certainly does not approve of certain things her sister does, this might imply that she does know "dirty secrets" about her sister which she doesn't want to believe. This might also show characterization about Stella, she never confronts people, she copes with them. Instead of facing Stanley when necessary, she simply accepts most of the things he says. In Blanche's case, instead of reproving of her behavior, she supports Blanche, she aids Blanche she does everything to please Blanche, ad to protect her from harm. Why does Stella choose this path? Accepting everything may lead her to be harmed for the good of others, and although this might be altruism, it seems rather stupid.