While watching A Streetcar named Desire, the character of Blanche Dubois at first appeared to be a weak self-absorbed southern woman, when really what started coming from her character was a flawed personality. What is not known is whether this is something that runs in the family, or has only shown itself through Blanche. Since this was during a time when mental illness was not yet studied deeply, the way Blanche is treated while succumbing to her illness and how she was sent off to the mental hospital was rather archaic. Blanche is the central character and the movie shows her spiraling down into the abyss of mental illness apparently escalated by the loss of family, her home and the treatment by Stanley.
Inside, Blanche had wantonness, sexual desire that she apparently gave into frequently at the Flamingo Hotel. Though it was never stated directly in the movie, the assumption placed before the audience was that Blanche had been involved in a form of prostitution. This may have been a factor to her declining mental health, or could have been a side effect of her condition. Mental illness presents differently through each person. What may have appeared to the other characters as choices for Blanche may have been something she was not able to control. It is not clear whether she had been that way before her marriage.
The way that Blanche’s character was written shows a strong tendency towards a mental health issue known as Histrionic Personality Disorder. The earmarks of this illness are as follows: excessively emotional, need for an audience, shallow and rapidly shifting emotions, inappropriate sexual or provocative behavior, and does not form strong relational bonds amongst a whole host of other symptoms. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Histrionic personality disorder may affect a person's social or romantic relationships. The person may be unable to cope with losses or failures.” which in the case of Blanche, appears to be her problem. She showed the provocative behavior towards Stanley at first and during points within the movie while also performing to gain the attention of those around her.
Blanche was deeply ensconced in the belle of the south rearing she had received growing up, and played that to the best of her ability. The disorder she suffered from may have had its groundings in that southern way of raising girls during that era. In the movie, Blanche relies on her upbringing to portray the helpless female image she uses to get what she wants from a person or in a situation. One of the lines in the movie caters to her narcissistic self, while at the same time using her belle of the south upbringing to her advantage when she was speaking with Mitch, a possible love interest. Blanche states, “I can't stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.” By making that statement, Blanche first attempts to cover her aging from the harsh...