Ok, so there's a lot to talk about in these three scenes since they encompass the tragic finale to Blanche's saga and the most climactic scenes in the play. I'll try to highlight some key aspects which I found especially poignant.
Firstly, in scene 9, Mitch insists on taking a "realistic" look (here meaning with lots of light) at Blanche and Blanche objects claiming "I don't want realism. I want magic! I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth!" (Williams 117). I think this scene is extremely important for many reasons. Mitch's confrontation and desire to see Blanche in clear light symbolizes the deterioration of Blanche's mask before society and how she can no longer hide in the shadows. Furthermore, Blanche is finally brutally honest about her deceptive ways, defending them as what "ought" to be. This declaration parallels the famous Shakespeare quote of "All world's a stage". It also emphasizes Blanche's romantic qualities as she rejects the cold raw truth. Later in the same scene, Mitch turns on the light and Blanche "covers her face" (Williams 117). I connected this to the movie Dangerous Liaisons, in which the closing scene features a protagonist removing her make-up to expose her malevolent façade. I thought the physical act of revealing a person's face and the parallel of revealing their identity was similar in both works.
Another scene I would like to highlight is Stanley's rape of Blanche, arguably the play's most shocking moment. Symbolically, I believe it shows Stanley's ultimate triumph, physical and mental, over Blanche and the author enhances that through stage directions. The "inhuman voices", "shadows" and "lurid reflections" elucidate Blanche's broken mental state and build tension (Williams 28). Stanley's brutal cornering of her is very compelling and one can't help but feel sorry for the interrupted and frail Southern belle.
One question I have: Why does Blanche say she depends upon the "kindness of strangers"? I don't see how that fits with the overall thematic message...
Be, I believe that this "kindness of strangers" is meant to be satirical only. Look where the "kindness of strangers" has gotten her. Strangers, and friends as well, have been nothing but cruel to her. She has been used, raped, betrayed, and completely broken because of these strangers.
Curtains open or close?
Be, I believe actualy that Blanche's line has a lot to do with the over all message of the play. This quotes demonstrates how Blanche is dependent on other people believing her. Her image and her reputation is dependent on what others think kf her, hence, she depends on the kindness of others. This reminds me of "Everything and Nothing" being that Blanche has to be constantly putting up her image, to save her reputation. This scene however also reminds me of "The Breakfast Club". In one of the scenes the weird geeky girl states how wild she is, that she has slept with her shrink and drinks tremendous amounts of alcohol. However, towards the end of the film she say that all these where lies and she did it to get attention. This way of the character of approaching other people resembles Blanche. Back "home" one way consider that she would do such things for attention. Differently from the character of the movie, Blanche actually did do these things, however both of them, their masks are brought down and "their true colours shine."
I agree with Be when he points out the significance of the scene in which Blanche objects to let Mitch see her realistically. Blanche's objection of "I don't want realism. I want magic! I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth!" (Williams 117) completely represents what Blanche has stood for through the whole play. She refuses to all characters indirectly to ever show herself, and now there is a direct denial and rejection to Mitch.
A Most Beautiful Tragedy
Due to Stanley's unmasking of Blanche in scenes nine through eleven, emotionally and mentally Blanche hits rock bottom. These chapters were shocking and agonizing, yet also pleasing because of how masterfully Tennessee Williams closes up the story. Blanche left a truly lasting impression on me in these scenes. She is a tragic figure, because it is not her fault she was so trusting as a young girl, and it is not her fault she was scarred by the graphic event in her past. She was already cracked when she arrived in Elysian Fields, yet she left shattered. Because she is so fragile Mitch's rejection is much more painful to the audience, even though it was expected. Because she is so fragile Stanley's abuse and rape is just that much more tragic. What I found beautiful about the ending was the symbolism, repetition and foreshadowing being realized. The foreshadowing of Steve's joke in scene three about the rooster, hen and corn, comes true in these scenes when Stanley (the rooster) does take a detour from chasing the Stella (the hen) and goes after Blanche (the corn). Also foreshadowing is Blanche's prediction of her death, when she shares frantically with Eunice and Stella, "I will die-with my hand in the hand of some nice looking ship's doctor." (Williams 136) Her prediction is right to some extent because she will be spending the rest of her life in an asylum, where she will be cared for by nurses and doctors, a doctor who will likely hold her hand as she dies. Because Blanche's most repeated phrase is also her last, "Whoever you are-I have always depended on the kindness of strangers" (Williams 142) Blanche's fragile and helpless state is engraved in the readers mind, as is the tragedy of the moment.
The situation in these scenes made me think of a quote that everyone has heard in one form or another. This quote from Ken Kesey, the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, exclaims how "this world...belongs to the strong!" The weak, that is Blanche, in Streetcar Named Desire are prey to the strong. Blanche is victim of Stanley's abuse and needs Stella's support for almost everything. She is helpless because she is weak, and she is weak because she is helpless. She is weak emotionally, physically, and isn't really that smart either. Because fiction is a representation of reality a saying like this is relevant to us as well.
This way of thinking is debatable. To some extent it makes sense to me, but I am not sure so my question is: Does the world belong to the strong, and are they getting ever bigger by devouring the weak?
Whenever I finish reading Streetcar, I close the back cover with a sinking feeling in my chest. Steve's last line, "The game is seven-card stud" (142) echoes the sickening notion that it is all a "game," and the game goes on, a game in which bluffing, deception, innuendo, and facades dictate one's "winnings." While some critics argue that Williams intended to end the play by dealing a new hand in a new game, I generally close this play feeling defeated by the notion of "gaming" period. I don't like Blanche's ploy to "misrepresent" as a means of fabricating the "magic" she believes "ought to be" (117). I despise the persistence of Stella's delusion, as Stanley's "fingers find the opening of her blouse" (130), and she surrenders to his touch. I loathe Stanley's red silk pajamas and the "inhuman jungle voices" that reverberate as he "picks up her [Blanche's] inert figure." I hate them all for their blind, heartless game, this "date" they've had "with each other since the beginning" (130).
In response to Justice's question, I think you'd find it interesting to know that in the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, that quote is ultimately proven erroneous. Sure, Kesey said "this world...belongs to the strong," but then he proved otherwise in the novel's twisted denouement. Justice-- if we subscribe to the notion that the world belongs to "the strong," then perhaps we have inadvertently surrendered to the notion that society judges what role(s) we embody. Blanche allows her past roles to devour her. Borges recognizes that those roles splinter his selfhood. Edna rejects the imposition and attempts to redefine herself. If we submit to the notion of "weak" and "strong" then we deny our startling capacity for change.
"Weak" and "strong" are relative, and ever shifting. That's why we have to read plays like Streetcar. They unveil the sickening possibility of what could be if we remain blind. They portray the lurid shadows of past hurt, the menacing threat of submitting to gender roles, the debilitating disasters of self-deception. Streetcar is a play in which I hate all of the characters, but strangely, ultimately, love them. I love them for reminding me what I do not ever, ever wish to become.
Forgot to include my name ;) Also, I would like to formally recognize that my post was 23 words over the limit. Apologies...
Unmasking the Queen
One of the many key points in these three last scenes is Mitch`s confrontation towards Blanche. He questions her past and demands a true explanation of who is really is, by stating, "so I can take a look at you good and plain!" (Williams 117). Blanche answers his demand for a "realistic" view with denial, as she says, "I don`t like realism. I want magic!" (Williams 117). This argument Mitch and Blanche demonstrates Blanche`s masked personality and how it slowly degrades as the plot moves on, until the point where even the most naive character, Mitch, questions its veracity. I believe that this is the major turning point of the play, since Blanche realizes that she cannot keep up with her lies anymore. Mitch was her last hope of carrying on her life and finding someone who would end her loneliness, but he neglects her, as he states, "you`re not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother" (Williams 121). Her failure to seduce Mitch and leaving her sister`s house, along with being sexually assaulted by Stanley, leads to Blanche`s mental collapse, which causes her to be forcefully hospitalized. The play`s ending reminds me of Shakespeare`s "Othello" denouement where the antagonist Iago is unmasked and thrown into jail. Similarly to Blanche, Iago was a very close friend of the protagonist, hiding his true intentions and background.
Question: Why does Blanche immediately changes her mind and willingly goes with the doctor once he speaks to her?
First of all I would like to say I completely agree with the remarks made by Bernardo, Leo and Justice. I am really glad to have read your posts as many things I had missed out, such as Blanche’s prediction of her own death, as mentioned by Justice, were brought to my attention. Bernardo’s conclusions on Stanley’s rape of Blanche were also in perfect tune with my own, so I was very flattered that he pointed it all out, thus leaving me more space to talk about other things! Hahaha
Alright, so I would like to begin with something none of you have mentioned and yet I believe is imperative to the play as a whole: Blanche is beginning to seem delusional as she starts drinking heavily and listening to the Varsouviana in her mind, pressing upon her. Surrounded by the repressed feelings of her unfortunate and recent past, Blanche is now so afraid of Death’s proximity that she makes a last attempt to seek for its opposite, Desire, and perhaps redeem herself.
This takes me to Bernardo’s question on Blanche’s last remarks. What she means is that, because of her loneliness and depravity after her husband’s death, she sought for comfort and protection through desire, with strangers.
As Mitch refuses Blanche, her last chance for stability disappears, and thus she is no longer able to escape her past. I also noticed how, interestingly before leaving, Mitch tells Blanche she “…is not clean enough to bring in the house with [his] mother” (Williams 91). This goes back to Blanche’s addiction with baths and what they symbolize; she takes long and frequent baths to cleanse her soul from her past mistakes. With Mitch’s remarks, it becomes obvious that her efforts failed.
The appearance of the Mexican flower seller during this part of the play is also important to consider, as she symbolizes death; the death that surrounded Blanche in Belle Reve, the death of her relationship with Mitch, the death of her hope for redemption.
Finally, I would like to point out the significance of the comparison between the poker night during the beginning of the play and during the end. Before, Stanley was losing the game and now he is winning and all poker players have lost their previous energetic good humor… Also, it is interesting how the roles of the two sisters somewhat reverse. Now, Stella admits she might have entered in a make-believe world as she says “I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley” (Williams 101). Similarly to Blanche, Stella will now live in a world of what is “ought to be” instead of what it really is.
Questions: What’s up with the discussion about the color of Blanche’s jacket between Eunice, Stella and Blanche? What is a “seven-card stud” and how can this be related to the ending of the play?
The Green Light That Blinds
The ending threw me off; I was no expecting such “weird” ending, so the fact that Stella decided not to believe in Blanche’s story with Stanley was the final evidence to demonstrate that she is blind towards her love/lust for Stanley. Also, at scene ten it can be perceived that Blanche tells a lie to Stanley about Mitch telling him that Mitch had come back asking for her forgiveness and she rejected him. This never happened so this support also the idea that she is blind to reality what reinforces what Blanche said casually at the end of scene 2, “The blind are leading the blind!”(Williams 44) It means that both of them are blind to reality as Blanche’s attitude towards men lead to Stella to believe that she was crazy, as she alleged that she slept with Stanley. As well, Blanche’s sense out of reality can be noticed as she says to Mitch: “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it”(Williams 117) Blanche practically explains in this dialogue with Mitch what kind of game she has been playing with people, that she acts things out because that the way she wants to face reality even that she is aware of the truth she likes to manage things into her preference. She even accepts the guilt of changing the reality.
It’s interesting to see the reference of the cempazuchil, which is considered to be the flower of the death by the nahualt culture. The meaning of this yellow flower is used to foreshadow, as well as the streetcar name cemeteries that there will be a tragic ending; and there is indeed a tragic ending.
It was interesting to perceive the symbolism of light, which in Blanche’s case would be the symbolism of truth, as Mitch can finally see her under light after he knows the truth about her past.
I believe these 3 main characters represent psychological stages as many people are blinded by love, lust and desire. They are representations of the human nature and each of us are a little bit like each character as we decide to blind ourselves to life or to act irrationally as we want without thinking on how we are affecting other people’s lives.
In still in doubt if Blanche was raped or if she just let things go on, as she was kind of flirty with Stanley, he just continued the game. So, Was Blanche really raped? Was it her fault? Did she incite Stanley to do it so?
Finally, I established the connection of “A streetcar named desire” to “The Great Gatsby” because in both books the characters blind themselves into what they want to see but at the end they fail, even Eunice mentions to be green with envy what loosely, which comes from the Green envy monster of Shakespeare, which the green light of “The Great Gatsby” could have been inspired of. The most similar characters in the aspect of consciousness blindness are Gatsby to Blanche, as both created illusions, failed on their objectives ,and had tragic endings.
“This game is a Seven-card Stud”
After finishing reading the play, many questions bomb in my head. Was all this huge mess a game for Stanley? Did he really rape Blanche? After all, there is not one moment in the play where Tenessee Williams says the word “rape”. And I continue to wonder if Blanche is indeed mentally unstable. I am going to play Blanche’s advocate now.I believe she was only needy, to the point of believing that all her lies were “magic” just like she claimed in the “paper moon” song she sang before (Williams 117). This can be even proven when she says to Mitch when he comes see her in act nine, “I don’t want realism. I want magic. I try to give that to people” (Williams 117). Through this straight tone, as it can be seen through the short sentences from the last acts during Blanche’s speech, I was able to visualize that Blanche wasn’t mentally crazy. I though she was crazy at first because I actually believed that she believed her own lies, but when I read this quote, I was able to see that she knew she was pulling this act all along. Therefore, at the end of act eleven, when she talks about Shep Huntleigh, who will guarantee that she isn’t still putting this fake act again to seem well for Stanley and the other men?
Moreover, what left me irritated was that Stella didn’t believe Blanche about Stanley’s “blank (we don’t know what he actually did)” because she thought Blanche was mentally unstable. But what I came to realize at the end of this book, is that Stella is the one mentally unstable. She is the one that refuses to see her husband’s true character, since the beginning she tries to please everyone. She stays with her husband regardless of the fact that he beat her; she is completely submissive, differently from Blanche. Just look at Stella’s and Eunice’s dialogue in act eleven:
“Stella: I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley.
Eunice: Don’t ever believe it. Life has to go on” (Williams 133).
What the HELL is that suppose to mean??!!! “Life has to go on”…Yeah right by betraying your own sister and staying with a man that looks like a pig and disrespects you? This is not right, and Blanche saw that since the beginning. Both sisters are indeed blind, but in my opinion, Blanche fakes she is blind, as if playing a game, while Stella is truly blind. She is consumed by Stanley’s constant games and drunk sexual impulses. She is the ridiculous one.
A connection I could make with the story was that of “Picture the Dead”. This is a book by Adele Griffin which tells a story of a girl that is deceived and is made to believe she is crazy; until she realizes that the actual people that run the hospital are the crazy ones. The ones that run the hospital, have sexual relations with patients, they do not give proper medicines and make the crazy even more crazy through constant electric shocks. This is how I see Blanche now, a sane person being portrayed as crazy, when all of the other people are the hypocrites that want to see her as crazy.
Furthermore, in the end of nine there is a weird Mexican woman that appears selling flores to the dead, “flores para los muertos, flores, flores” (Williams 120). I just kept wondering why Tenessee Williams but that there. It is precisely in the moment after the woman says that that Blanche says “it is the opposite of desire” (Williams 120). She obviously means that death is the opposite of desire, but it is seems so random when she says it, that I just kept wandering, what is the significance of this quote? Why does Blanche believe that death is the opposite of desire? I mean just think about her last lover, he died but she still leaves in misery and did all of the horrible things she did because she had a heavy conscious and desired him. Why is she saying this, in this specific passage?
The Snowball of Misfortunes
It seems Blanche's misfortunes just keep accumulating. Much like a snowball- the ones that you see in cartoons. They start off small, become bigger as they roll in the snow, with the cartoon characters running away comically from them, and then eventually crush the cartoon characters. Blanche's snowball of misfortune also starts small and slowly becomes bigger until it eventually crushes her. Blanche's young husband being gay is the first bit of the snowball, but then the snow started accumulating through her husband's death, her loss of Belle Reve, her fooling around with men, until the snowball eventually became huge and crushed her, and she was sent to the loony bin. On further reflection, this connection can also serve to demonstrate Blanche's steadfast ignoring and running away from the problem. Instead of facing the snowball and trying to take it apart before it becomes even bigger, Blanche runs away from it. She goes so far as to deny its existence, concocting her world of lies and saying, "I don't want realism. I want magic! I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth!" (Williams 117). She starts believing her own lies, out of fear of the snowball. For her, it is better to pretend that there were beautiful snowflakes dancing in the sky than facing the snowball that was chasing after her. Until the very end, she refuses to see the snowball. I find this attitude of hers rather pathetic. She should have been stronger and gotten herself together after her husband died. She should have taken charge of herself. One does not simply ignore problems- they are not going away. One has to face them. I will take apart my snowball before it becomes big enough to crush me. Some realism is necessary, and the world is not just enough for us to rely on what "ought to be the truth".
One thing that confused me was the foreshadowing of death that never really occurred. This foreshadowing came in the form of the Mexican lady selling "flores para los muertos". She sells them while Blanche talks to Mitch. The flores metaphor is extended when Blanche says about her soldiers; that "later the paddy-wagon would gather them up like daisies" (Williams 120). The soldiers, for being compared to daisies, all died, as several soldiers do. But even though it seemed like Tennessee Williams was screaming at us that Blanche was going to die, she did not. Blanche was taken to a hospital for those who are crazy and she was raped, but I do not believe she was sentenced to death. Or was it a custom of the time to kill those who were crazy? Would Stella actually sentence her sister to death? Could Blanche have seduced Mitch into marrying her? There was no need to reject him so strongly, there was still a chance.
And So, the Curtains Close
After rereading the book I still have the same opinion, the book sucks. The ending is too abrupt, unexpected and lastly, it leaves the story unresolved. There is no catharsis to it and this bothers me greatly. I was also bothered by the fact that Stella was told by Blanche that she was raped, or at least, it is implied that Stella knows when she tell Eunice “I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley.” (William 133). It shows us the type of person Stella is, she denies the truth, like Blanche said “I don´t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic!” Stella seems to follow that train of thought. She ignored her sister´s version and simply chose to be ignorant; after all, ignorance is bliss. Furthermore Eunice´s answer to Stella was even more interesting; as she said “Don’t ever believe it. Life has to go on” (William 133). This for me shows that it is not only Stella´s belief, but a communities´ belief. The society Stella lives in is one that believes that men are superior and that women should cope with that. Blanche on the other hand comes with a different perspective. That is why she was thought of as crazy, because she is different. But still, why would Stella not believe in her sister? Is sexual desire greater than sibling´s love?
I could relate this ending to the song “So os loucos sabem” by Charile Brown Junior, which translated would mean, “only the crazy understand”. Hence, only Blanche – who was seem by society as crazy – truly understood that things were wrong the way they were.
So, we finally reached the end! And what a tragic ending, at least for Blanche, Stella and Mitch. Surely, not tragic for Stanley since he got what he wanted: Blanche is humiliated and taken away and he and Stella are finally left alone again so the "colored lights" can restart. Overall, I was particularly amazed how these final pages were a synthesis of all topics, images and symbols that appeared throughout the play, including alcoholism, lights, poker, blindness, lust, lies, and animalization and dehumanization of people. In regards to alcoholism, Blanche drinks to 'forget' her problems, which is one of the main reasons adult drink excessively, as described in the stage directions, “she is drinking to escape … the sense of disaster in on her”. (Williams 113). Not only that, but Stanley also arrives drunk. Just like when Stanley beats Stella, once again, the alcohol removes any sort of restriction of sanity, which is present in sober people. The alcohol brings about Stanley's innermost desire of having sexual relations with Blanche and reinforces his unscrupulous and disrespectful character. I would also like to comment how Blanche franticly tells Mitch about her habit of lying, “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it! – Don’t turn the light on!” (Williams 117). Blanche confesses her obsession for deceptions and admits she lies frequently by stating, “I don’t tell the truth”. She finalizes her revelation by demanding Mitch not to turn on the lights, which illustrates that the light represents the truth and exposure. Furthermore, when reading this quote it is inevitable to remember magical realism, a genre in which reality and magic are blended together in a way that it's impossible to distinguish them. Likewise, Blanche incorporates her lies into her words so recurrently and naturally that she is able to deceive many people, but not Stanley, who catches all of her lies on page 127.
Questions: To what extent is desire destructive? How will Stella and Stanley’s relationship be different form now on? To what extent is lying a common habit that goes by unperceived?
Oops! Forgot the title: Alcoholic truths
P.S.: I loved how Williams included a foreshadowing on page 128 of Blanche, who is represented by a prostituted, being pursued by Stanley, the drunkard.
The White Fades To Red
First of all, the rape scene was very subjective but not that ambiguous. Rape, in my terms, is defined by sex that is not 100% consensual between all parties involved. So yes, Blanche did flirt with Stanley earlier in the play, and maybe ideas of sleeping with him popped up in her mind during the play (because although they are certainly very opposing characters, the sexual tension between them is always there), but the minute she showed any signs of struggle or doubt, then it was not consensual and therefore, can be defined as rape. And if when she "smashes a bottle on the table and faces him, clutching the broken top" (Williams 130) does not constitute as a definite struggle, then I honestly don't know what does.
The contrast between Mitch's and Stanley's reactions to the recent news on Blanche's past are very contrasting, since Stanley shows power over Blanche by frightening her with her own secrets, and then raping her. Mitch, on the other hand, sounds deeply upset and disappointed when he says "You lied to me, Blanche" (Williams 119). He also sounds, as stage directions imply, "Slowly and bitterly" (Williams 117), which emphasizes one of the main themes in the play, which is how terrible endings to relationships can ruin a person. He attempts to sleep with her, but unlike Stanley, backs off when asked to, which shows that, even after such experience, although he sounds bitter in this scene, he is still more of a gentleman that Stanley could ever be.
This bit reminded me of this ad entitled "Break the Box" (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2GIu5ZpnTM)
In it, there is a part with a man and a drunk woman, and he is feeling pressured to take advantage of her body and "be a man" because "she WANTS it". The pressure he is feeling is very Stanley-like, who treats women as objects and will do anything in the name of his manhood. Meanwhile, what the man does in the end of the video reminded me of Mitch, because he gains consciousness of what is right, and decides not to abuse the girl.
Questions (I know my blog post is late but I think questions are a requirement nevertheless):
To what extend was Blanche "asking for it"? And do you think Blanche is better off at the mental facility, or was there still some hope left for her to live a normal life?