Scene 6The opening mood of this scene isdownbeat and depressing. Mitch andBlanche’s date has been a failure. 1
Blanche’s Double Standards• Her play-acting emphasises her need for make-believe situations (needs to pretend she’s proper and moral)• Her recklessness is also apparent. She asks Mitch in French to sleep with her and when she speaks to him about her old fashioned ideas about women’s behaviour she rolls her eyes 2
Blanche on Love – Light and Dark Imagery• When she fell in love her world was consumed by “blinding light” and when her husband died, “the searchlight was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light …”• A lack of light has enabled Blanche to live a lie, but without light Blanche has lived without a clear view of herself and reality 3
• Blanche needs Mitch as a stabilizing force in her life• If her relationship with him fails, she faces a world that offers few prospects for a financially challenged, unmarrie d, middle aged woman 4
• The polka music: the same music was playing when Blanche told her husband (just before his suicide) that he disgusted her• When we hear the music in the play it shows Blanche is escaping into a fantasy world and remembering her greatest regret (guilt) 5
Scene 7• The cheerful mood of Blanche singing in the bath and Stella arranging the birthday table is shattered when Stanley comes in with his details about Blanche’s past 6
SymbolismHer singing of “Paper Moon” – “ itwouldn’t be make-believe if youbelieved in me” – symbolises thatBlanche’s hopes of a future withMitch rest in him believing her act. 7
BlancheAfter Belle Revewas lost, Blanchestayed at theFlamingo Hotel;they eventuallykicked her out, onaccount of theendless string ofmale guests sheentertained. 8
She lost herjob teachinghigh schoolEnglishbecause of anaffair with aseventeen-year-oldstudent. 9
• Mitch knows everything – Stanley has ruined any prospects Blanche had for security in her life.• Mitch will not marry Blanche. 10
Scene EightThis is a disjointed scene with changes ofmood from embarrassment to violence, to apathetic attempt at normality, to Stanley’sbrutality, ending with Stella’s abrupt departurefor the hospital.
BlancheStella’s departureto the hospitalleaves Blanchealone in theapartment for thenext two sceneswith tragic results(danger)
Stanley• Stanley’s rude table manners symbolise his primitive qualities and desire to upset Blanche and Stella• Stanley smashing the plate symbolises his potential for violence
• Hates that Blanche still thinks she’s superior• Gift to Blanche – a one way ticket back to Laurel – symbolises his cruel tendencies and his vicious nature• “grunts”, “stalks” – remind us of his animalistic nature
• He feels that Stella has become insubordinate since Blanche arrived.• Wants to establish his dominance by hurting Blanche.• Stella can’t ask for help with chores or criticize – Blanche is giving her “ideas”
Polka MusicAfter Blanche receivesthe bus ticket she hearsthe polka again - showsthat she is beginning tolose control again.Stanley’s cruel actionhas pushed her over theedge.
Scene NineDisintegration: Blanche is drinkingheavily and the past (polka music) ispressing own upon her
Blanche• Motivation: surrounded by the memories of her dead husband and dying members of her family, she felt so afraid of Death’s proximity that she sought the opposite - DESIRE• To Blanche desire symbolises life, youth and everything that is pleasant• Ironically Blanche dies inside as a result of her moral decay
“I don’t want realism…"Illtell you what I want. Magic!Yes, yes, magic! I try to givethat to people".She lies fromweakness, fromimmaturity, from a fear ofreality. She tells Mitch thatshe speaks of the world asit ought to be, and aspeople would prefer it to
The liquor Blanche drinksis called “SouthernComfort”. Blanche hasarrived in the southernstates looking for comfortbut neither the alcohol orher stay with Stanley andStella are giving her any.Her journey to NewOrleans was her quest fora new life.
At Laurel (she admits herlies):• The description of the soldiers calling out her name from the lawn of Belle Reve (lurid and chilling)• The story shows the depths of Blanches loneliness and depravity; she sought comfort and protection in impossible places, with men who were only interested in one thing.
Alone at Belle Reve, and in all the beds shefrequented - terrifyingly isolated. In herloneliness, her desires became more andmore difficult to control, and more andmore unhealthy.
Mitch• Mitch’s refusal to marry Blanche show that she is no longer able to escape her past• Mitch hurrying out of the apartment represents Blanche’s last chance for stability in her life disappearing – She asks him to save her, and he refuses.
The Paper Lantern • Represents the dressing up of reality • Mitch tearing down the lantern conveys that Stanley has already metaphorically “turned on the light for Mitch”, but now he wants the truth for himself. • For Blanche light is a cruel enemy while darkness is kind (normally opposite symbolism)
DeathThe appearance ofthe Mexican flowerseller symbolises thedeath of Blanche’srelationship withMitch and all thedeath thatsurrounded her atBelle Reve.
Scene TenThis scene is the dramatic climaxof the playThroughout this scene Williamsuses every means available tocreate an atmosphere ofmenace:-• opening stage directions – Blanche’s “soiled and crumpled” evening dress and her “scuffed silver slippers”• When she breaks the mirror we are reminded that this brings bad luck
• When Stanley turns on Blanche her terror takes on a visible form: “grotesque and menacing” shapes close in around her• the ugly, violent scenes within the apartment are mirrored by the ugly, violent scenes on the street outside• the effect of the “inhuman voices likes cries in a jungle” and sinuous shadows on the walls around Blanche create a shocking visual and sound (the horror of a man raping his sister-in-law while his wife is giving birth to their child)
The Rape• The way Stanley terrorises Blanche by shattering her self-delusions parallels and foreshadows his physical rape of her• Animalistic body language – “snake”, “springs towards her”. He is described as more animal-like than human• The jungle noises symbolise the primitive nature of Stanley and danger for Blanche• Stanley is at his most triumphant ( just before the birth of his son) and she is at her most psychologically vulnerable - the ultimate act of cruelty
• The rape symbolises the final destruction of the Old South’s genteel fantasy world symbolised by Blanche, by the cruel but vibrant present symbolised by Stanley• In the new world of the South, animal instinct and common sense win out over lofty ideals and romantic notions• Blanche’s silent resignation as Stanley carries her to the bed indicates the utter defeat of her will
• The setting illustratesSymbolism that home is not a safe option for Blanche (danger in the street and apartment) • The “lurid reflections” on the wall - the nightmare world that Blanche now finds herself in • The blue piano music symbolises sadness and loss. All Blanche’s dreams have now been destroyed.
Our opinion of Stanley has changed greatly from the verybeginning of the playAt the start he is more likeable and down to earth than Blanche.He lacks her pretension and he represents the new Americawhere reward is based on merit and good work and notdependent on being born into fortunate circumstancesBlanche’s attempt to telephone to real world fails – this showsthat she has completely lost touch with reality.
Scene 11 – Differences between the PokerScenes •Stella has been crying •All the poker players apart from Stanley have lost their boisterous good humour •They rise in an act of courtesy when Blanche passes through the room •Stanley again tears down the paper lantern. Blanche cries out as though in physical pain (symbolic replay of the rape).
Why is this scene particularly effective? •Gradually, the audience are made aware that Blanche is being committed to a mental hospital – in the dark, like Blanche •Blanche’s quiet dignity at the end is in sharp contrast to her earlier displays of vanity and fussing over her appearance
• Blanche’s final words, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” reveals the sad truth that there has been very little kindness in Blanche’s life• Blanche’s behaviour towards the poker players conveys the way in which being raped by Stanley has scarred her. At the start of the play she performs for his friends, by the end she hides from their gaze and hopes they won’t notice her
Stella and Blanche• The roles of the two sisters reverse: Stella admits that she may have entered a world of make-believe (she cannot believe Blanche’s story about the rape and continue to live with Stanley)• Must believe that the story of the rape is the invention of a mentally unstable woman. Blanche’s descent into madness saves Stella from the truth
• Another poker game (“seven card stud”) is about to commence - a symbol of the deception and bluffing that has taken place in the Kowalski house• Everyone is going to move on: as the play ends, Steve is dealing a new hand (Blanche is forgotten).• The image of Stanley and Stella together at the end symbolises Stanley has won – he is the triumphant victor• Their relationship is now based on a series of lies and denial.
Blanche’s constant bathing again When Blanche arrives at Elysian Fields she represents her desire to cover up is wearing white – white suit, gloves, the past and be perceived as bodice and pearl necklace and earrings. somebody else. This represents her desire to be someone else. She wants to be perceived as a lady, covering the tainted past which is The spilt coke on Blanche’s skirt in unknown at the start. She constantly Scene 5 is representing her stained associated herself with white, and is reputation – Blanche’s desire to be ‘moth-like’ –they are drawn to light, but itSetting/Location – clean is unobtainable, she is soiled, kills them, just as Blanche is drawn toWords describing the setting of the just as her skirt is. Also a something that destroys her.play (contained within stage sexual image – cokeDirections) reflect Blanche – ‘faded white frothing over. Lighting –stains’, ‘weathered’, and ‘decay’. In scene 3, despite her dislike of lighting, Blanche uses it to her advantage because she desires Mitch. She produces a Elysian Fields – Title – Desire coloured paper lantern and asks Mitch to paradise for The theme put it up. This represents her desire for a Blanche heroes after that fresh start, to recapture her innocence and speaks of death. Is a fresh dominates the play is love. her death start for contained within the title. Two in a Blanche, and streetcars – Music – soliloquy could find this ‘Desire’, ‘Cemeteries’ – sums The blue piano and polka music represent Blanche anddescribing here? But also up Blanche’s life – desire will Stanley’s constant need to be in control. Throughout how she linked to death. lead to death. the play, the prominence of both changes. Scene 2 – wants to blue piano plays as Stanley arrives, and grows louderdie – at the during the confrontation. end, she Sexual Desire – when the sisters speak about longs for sexual desire in Scene 4… The colour red – death. Stella: Haven’t you ever ridden on that streetcar Blanche often wears a red robe and the lantern she Blanche: It brought me here – where I’m not hangs is red. This is the colour of desire, but also blood wanted and where I’m ashamed to be. and hate – linked to death. An allusion to her as a scarlet woman?
Scene 10 – Blanche is so Scene 8 – Stanley gives Scene 1 – Loss of Belle Reve, where Blanche anddesperate to go back in Blanche a bus ticket back to Stella grew up. Their past has been taken away.time her supposedly Laurel – the one place she can Blanche finds it hard to let go because Stella hasperfect relationship with not go, but there is no place Stanley (her future) whereas Blanche has no realAlan that she looses it, and for her in Stanley and Stella’s future. Past and present clash when Stanley andstarts dressing up. Stanley future. Blanche meet.mocks her and rapes her. Scene 9 – Blanche is drinking Scene 2 –, Stanley wants money for the future ofShe can not take refuge in alone – that is her future. She his unborn child from the loss of Belle Reve – ‘Athe past anymore. can not live in the past man has to take an interest in his wife’s anymore. Mitch is not her affairs…especially when she is about to have a Scene 11 – Stella packs ‘knight’ anymore. baby.’ Stella is moving on from Belle Reve, and Blanche’s bags. Poker leaving Blanche behind. There is a challengenight again – the presents between Stanley and Blanche – new and old. Past and still carries on. Blanche Scene 3 – Poker Night. Stanley resents Mitch’s thinks she is going on a Present interest in Blanche. She sees the potential in him, cruise, still stuck in a and asks him to put up the lantern, creating soft romantic dream. As Scene 6 – Mitch and Blanche’s romantic lighting to make her appear younger. She Blanche leaves, Stanley evening fails because Blanche is clinging to the past. Stanley and Stella’scomforts Stella with sex to has to direct him. The only relationship is more modern than Blanche’s need toshow that the past has not thing they have in common is a chevalier blanc. affected them and death. Her romantic ideals are Scene 4 – Blanche is left out again, doesn’t without Blanche, life will not working out. Blanche understand Stanley and Stella’s relationship. Stella go on. opens up about her past… to Blanche – ‘you are making too much fuss about Music – ‘blue piano’ – this.’ Blanche – ‘I don’t understand your Stanley – future. Scene 7 – Blanche’s birthday indifference. ‘varsouviana polka’ – dinner – she’s getting older. Scene 5 Blanche’s past catches up with her. Stanley Blanche – past. Mitch finds out about her past finds out about the Flamingo – scares Blanche.Transport – Train – Stanley and it finally catches up with Blanche’s nature is that of a hopeless romantic, not – Future her when Stanley wins their self sufficient. She tries to seduce a boy – Tram – Blanche – past. latest battle. attempting to recapture her lost youth.
Other characters deceiving themselves The Fight Between Fantasy and Reality•Stella deceives herself. She chooses not to •The contrast between fantasy and reality is shownbelieve her sister –’I couldn’t believe her and through the contrast between the main go on living with Stanley…’ characters, Stanley and Blanche. •Stanley – modern man, blue piano, V Blanche – •She reads ‘coloured comics’ – a childish southern belle, varsouviana. regression into a black and white fantasy world. •The play culminates with Stanley gaining total control over Blanche. Reality ultimately triumphs over reality.•Stanley deceives himself when he says ‘it’s •The lantern is a representation of Blanche’s reliancegonna be alright again between you and me, on fantasy to sustain herself. In Scene II, when Stanley the way that it was…’ Things can never go rips off the lantern (another triumph for back to the way they were before. reality), Blanche cries out ‘as if the lantern was herself’. •Mitch lets himself be deceived by Blanche about his appearance and their connection’. Fanta •Abortive telephone calls also show Blanche’s reliance on a fantasy – they are her ways of calling to the outside for help, and they drag her into reality. sy and Signs tat Blanche deceives others Reality • Blanche wants ‘magic’ and tells Signs that Blanche deceives herself ‘what ought to be the truth’. •‘My ‘Rosenkavalier’ – creating a fantasy that Reasons Blanche deceives herself Mitch is her white knight.•Gives Mitch the impression that she •Her experiences – the death of is pure, but is really a cheap •Paper lantern - ‘I can’t stand a naked bulb’ – Alan, loneliness as she cared for dyingseductress (promiscuous past) – e.g.. her looks are fading, and so she can not see relatives, loss of Belle Reve.she ‘moves indolently‘ ‘into the streak herself in harsh light. •Age/insecurity ‘my looks are slipping’. of light’ so that the men at Stanley’s •Her plan to escape, formed with ‘kleenex and poker night may see her change an eyebrow pencil’ – she deceives herself into •Loss of chivalric code – men no clothes. believing it is more than a superficial fantasy. longer respect her. ‘Men don’t – don’t •Her clothes – ‘not diamonds, but rhinestones even admit your existence unless they •Lies about Shep Huntleigh – next door to glass’. are making love to you –•Her clothes are a deception – looks loneliness, and a need for human •Bathing – trying to make herself feel pure fine, but are cheap rhinestone and contact. again, bathing helps with this, but it is a façade fox fur, nothing luxurious. – does not last.