How does Blanches portrayal throughout Streetcar set up her tragic downfall.
Blanche is portrayed in many ways throughout Streetcar, her overall appearance slips as the play continues, much like her mental state. Blanche is firstly portrayed as a ‘moth’, with a ‘delicate beauty that must avoid a strong light.’ This suggests she is weak and easily broken, the description of her being a ‘moth’ has connotations of her innocence and her ‘uncertain manner’ for moths are uncertain creatures, trying to avoid strong light but being ultimately attracted to the light, which could suggest her downfall later in the play.
It could be suggested that Stanley is the strong light, as she tries to avoid him but is sexually attracted to him. When it comes Blanches interaction with Stanley there is almost a flirtatious air to Blanche, she is forever ‘fishing’ for compliments, as she wants people to admire her, also, maybe she is jealous of what her sister has, a good ‘straight’ husband and wants it for herself. We find out later on, that part of her receding mental state is down to her husband who killed himself after Blanche found out he was gay.
When Blanche arrives at Elysian Fields she looks very out of place, she is dressed for fineness. She is ‘daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district’, the way she is dressed could have connation’s of innocence and purity as she is dressed in white, a colour very associated with innocence, purity and goodness, this to the reader is very ironic, as the reader knows that Blanche is none of these things. Blanche wants to show everyone that she is this innocent young woman, rather than the worn woman she actually is.
Blanche is horrified by her sister’s home, her and her sister grew up in the higher classes, with money and riches, she describes her sister’s home as something out of ‘Edgar Allen Poe’s’ haunting poems and stories. This reflects her horror, at the place as she references to Edgar Poe, whom wrote many horror poems and stories.
Blanche is portrayed as being visibly nervous, she is ‘shaking all over’. Here Williams suggests that she is obviously shaken by an event, which is not understood till later in the play. This in itself seems to suggest she is –maybe- a little mentally unstable as she keeps sneaking drink: ‘pours a half tumbler of…