The Tragic Blanche Du Bois In A Streetcar Named Desire

2222 words - 9 pages

“Tragic characters are “efficient” only in courting, suffering and encompassing their own destruction.” (Gassner 463). Fitting Gassner’s definition of a tragic character, Blanche DuBois in Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire caustically leads herself to her own downfall. In the beginning of the play, Blanche DuBois, a “belle of the old South” (Krutch 40), finds herself at the footsteps of her sister and brother-in-law’s shabby apartment in New Orleans. Although DuBois portrays herself as a refined and sophisticated woman, the reader soon comes to realize that, hiding beneath all the pearls and jewels, is a raw and unstable character. Not only does she harbor fatal flaws of loneliness, alcoholism, and pride, the influence of her animalistic brother-in-law, Stanley, perpetuates her demise, eventually leading to what some critics perceive as “insanity.”
From the very beginning, Blanche DuBois attempts to conceal her tragic flaws through a facade: of Virgin Mary like innocence and purity, while underneath her mask lays an identity of a prostitute and alcoholic. She strives to emulate a Southern aristocrat of her time period, but in this process, ironically, commits everything to solidify herself as the exact opposite. Blanche’s first impression reflects one of confidence, however; her fatal flaw of loneliness is ever present. Williams reveals to the reader Blanche’s solitude and instability with her statement to Stella, her sister, of the fact that “I can’t be alone! Because--as you must have noticed--I’m¬--not very well…” (17). Blanche yearns for the company of her sister, as she lacks any other stable relations. With the family deceased and Stella as the only survivor, Blanche can only lean on her shoulder in times of hardship. In this instant, Blanche actually acknowledges her need for help and communication; unfortunately, she fails to express it multiple times due to her hubris and vanity. Hence, her loneliness and solitude, as well her gradual decline that she suffers under can be attributed to the death of her young husband. Blanche married at a young age and unknowingly to a man who was homosexual. When she finds him in bed with another man, she belatedly realizes his sexuality and understandably is perplexed as well as furious. She confronts him; he later commits suicide. His suicide leaves her with an immense weight of guilt and forever tears her apart. Due to this, she becomes lonely with neither a family nor a husband to live on with. Therefore, she seeks out relations with other men to fill in the empty void, albeit only a temporarily fulfillment. Her fatal flaw of loneliness forces her to ravage for men of all ages leading her to be perceived as a woman of loose morals and a prostitute.
Blanche tries to conceal the secrets of her past from her new found life in New Orleans; however it is only a matter of time before the truth comes out. Stanley is the one to reveal her true reason for coming to New Orleans: she was...

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