Downfall and Denial in Streetcar Named Desire and Glass Menagerie
Tennessee Williams allows the main characters in the plays, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie, to live miserable lives, which they first try to deny and later try to change. The downfall and denial of the Southern gentlewoman is a common theme in both plays. The characters, Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire and Amanda from The Glass Menagerie are prime examples. Blanche and Amanda have had, and continue to have, many struggles in their lives. The problem is that Williams never lets the two women work through these problems and move on. The two ladies are allowed to destroy themselves and Williams invites the audience to watch them in the process (Stine 474).
The downfall, denial, and need to change of the two women are all quite evident in these two plays. First the troubles of Blanche and Amanda need to be recognized. Blanche has apparently had practice hiding her drinking problem. When she arrives at Stella’s home, she sneaks a shot of whiskey (Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, Scene1. Page 18. Lines 12-17). When she is later offered a drink, she acts as though she has no idea where the alcohol is kept (Williams, A.S.N.D. 1.19.12-15). Amanda cannot accept the fact that no gentlemen callers are coming for Laura, her daughter, thus making that reality more difficult for Laura to accept (Williams, The Glass Menagerie, 1.28.1-5). Neither Blanche nor Amanda allows herself to recognize her problems and work them out. They both deny the existence of these problems, thereby enabling their difficulties to become larger and even more complicated. When Stella offers Blanche a second drink, Blanche states, "One's my limit" (Williams, A.S.N.D., 1.21.14-15). Blanche is very "self-destructive" (Hassan 326). She is her own worst enemy because of the way she deals with her problems. Amanda comments sarcastically, at the end of the play, that Tom shouldn't think about his poor mother and sister (Williams, T.G.M., 9.114.1-3). She tries to push her problems off on him rather than deal with them herself. By laying the blame on Tom, she feels as though she did nothing wrong and that the family’s problems have been caused by others. If the two women had just accepted that they were also to blame, they could have moved on with their lives.
Both Blanche and Amanda's biggest problem is that they deny the truth. Blanche denies her drinking problem. She also indirectly denies the fact that she was a whore, mainly through omitting it from her memory. Blanche also tries to deny the reality of Stella’s situation as evidenced by her comment that, "I take for granted that you still have sufficient memory of Belle Reve to find this place and these poker players impossible to live with" (Williams, A.S.N.D., 4.70.1-3). She denies that she ever sank lower than Stella when, in truth, she was much worse. She was the one who lost her...