Blanches state of mind essay
In Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire, main character Blanche Dubois to begin with seems to be a nearly perfect model of a classy woman whose social interaction, life and behavior are based upon her sophistication. The play revolves around her, therefore the main theme of drama concerns her directly. In Blanche is seen the misfortune of a person caught between two worlds-the world of the past and the world of the present-unwilling to let go of the past and unable, because of her character, to come to any sort of terms with the present.
Symbolism is greatly used in the play to emphasize Blanche’s mental instability, this is most evidently found in the use of colors and shading. The first example of this is in both her name Blanche Dubois, which in French means white and her last name woods, this translates to ‘white woods’ and the fact that she dresses entirely in white upon her arrival. The color white symbolizes, purity, health and virginity, which in spite of the irony, this is the image she attempts to exhibit. This is her trying to appear new and fresh. There is noticeable symbolism that metaphorically taints this white purity, such of that in scene five when Blanche spills coke on her white dress. She frantically tries to remove it, she wishes to remove this so it doesn’t stain her. Like she sees how her past has. The fact that she has slept with so many men and this spill shows how she is in fact corrupt and stained with her past. This symbolism is an early suspicion to her insanity and promiscuous past which is only unraveled later in the play. We as such may not intentionally see this from the start. Only the illusory image, which she tries to create for herself, suggests these traits, but her true nature is not like that at all. She blames herself for the death of her husband, after which her mind began to derail. Also when Stanley asks about her marriage in Scene two, she hears the music in her head, which is an obvious case of how Blanche cannot control her own reality.
In the later part of the play, Blanche becomes ostensibly obsessed with the color red, which may symbolize romance. This could be symptomatic of her sexual desires and growing insanity. She feels the need for her sex life to at fire again. It is obvious, even as Blanche desperately attempts to imitate a respectable lady that there is something terrible wrong with her. Even she admits it in Scene One: “I want to be near you, got to be with somebody, I can’t be along! Because – as you must have noticed I am not very well…” (Page 24)
As common symbol is when Blanche takes constant baths, by this we can see that she wants to cleanse herself and wash away her past by what she sees as her sins. This refreshes her and makes her feel clean. This also enlightens her mood and she feels happy and refreshed again.