A Streetcar Named Desire character analysis


AS level English (Streetcar named Desire) Mind Map on A Streetcar Named Desire character analysis, created by tia baker on 04/15/2017.
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Mind Map by tia baker, updated more than 1 year ago
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Created by tia baker over 7 years ago

Resource summary

A Streetcar Named Desire character analysis
  1. Blanche DuBois
    1. Blanche DuBois appears in the first scene dressed in white, the symbol of purity and innocence
      1. She is seen as a moth-like creature. She is delicate, refined, and sensitive
        1. She is cultured and intelligent. She can't stand a vulgar remark or a vulgar action
        2. After finding out her husband was homosexual, they went to a dance where a polka was playing. In the middle of the dance, Blanche told her young husband that he disgusted her. This deliberate act of cruelty on Blanche's part caused her young husband to commit suicide
          1. Blanche has always thought she failed her young lover when he most needed her. She felt also that she was cruel to him in a way that Stanley would like to be cruel to her. And Blanche's entire life has been affected by this early tragic event
            1. Immediately following this event, Blanche was subjected to a series of deaths in her family and the ultimate loss of the ancestral home. The deaths were ugly, slow, and tortuous. They illustrated the ugliness and brutality of life
              1. To escape from these brutalities and to escape from the lonely void created by her young husband's death, Blanche turned to alcohol and sexual promiscuity. The alcohol helped her to forget. When troubled, the dance tune that was playing when Allan committed suicide haunts her until she drinks enough so as to hear the shot which then signals the end of the music
            2. Blanche's actions with Stanley are dictated by her basic nature. The woman must create an illusion. "After all, a woman's charm is fifty percent illusion." And if Blanche cannot function as a woman, then her life is invalid. She therefore tries to captivate Stanley by flirting with him and by using all of her womanly charms. She knows no other way to enter into her present surroundings
              1. Likewise, she must change the apartment. She can't have the glaring, open light bulb. She must have subdued light. She must live in the quiet, half-lit world of charm and illusion. She does not want to see things clearly but wants all ugly truths covered over with the beauty of imagination and illusion
              2. When Blanche meets Mitch, she realizes that here is a strong harbor where she can rest. Here is the man who can give her a sense of belonging and who is also captivated by her girlish charms
                1. She deceives him into thinking her prim and proper but in actuality, Blanche would like to be prim and proper. And as she later told Mitch: "inside, I never lied." Her essential nature and being have never been changed by her promiscuity. She gave of her body but not of her deeper self. To Mitch, she is ready to give her whole being
                2. Blanche's last remarks in the play seem to echo pathetically her plight and predicament in life. She goes with the doctor because he seems to be a gentleman and because he is a stranger. As she leaves, she says, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
                  1. Blanche's life ends in the hands of the strange doctor. She was too delicate, too sensitive, too refined, and too beautiful to live in the realistic world. Her illusions had no place in the Kowalski world and when the illusions were destroyed, Blanche was also destroyed
                3. Stanley Kowalski
                  1. Stanley Kowalski lives in a basic, fundamental world which allows for no subtleties and no refinements. He is the man who likes to lay his cards on the table. He can understand no relationship between man and woman except a sexual one, where he sees the man's role as giving and taking pleasure from this relationship
                    1. Even the symbols connected with Stanley support his brutal, animal-like approach to life. In the first scene, he is seen bringing home the raw meat. His clothes are loud and gaudy. His language is rough and crude. His outside pleasures are bowling and poker. When he is losing at poker, he is unpleasant and demanding. When he is winning, he is happy as a little boy
                      1. He is, then, "the gaudy seed-bearer," who takes pleasure in his masculinity. "Animal joy in his being is implicit," and he enjoys mainly those things that are his — his wife, his apartment, his liquor, "his car, his radio, everything that is his, that bears his emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer."
                        1. With the appearance of Blanche, Stanley feels an uncomfortable threat to those things that are his. Blanche becomes a threat to his way of life; she is a foreign element, a hostile force, a superior being whom he can't understand. She is a challenge and a threat. He feels most strongly that she is a threat to his marriage. Thus when the basic man, such as Stanley, feels threatened, he must strike back
                      2. Throughout Blanche's stay at his house, he feels that she has drunk his liquor, eaten his food, used his house, but still has belittled him and has opposed him. She has never conceded to him his right to be the "king" in his own house. Thus, he must sit idly by and see his marriage and home destroyed, and himself belittled, or else he must strike back. His attack is slow and calculated. He begins to compile information about Blanche's past life. He must present her past life to his wife so that she can determine who is the superior person
                        1. When he has his information accumulated, he is convinced that however common he is, his life and his past are far superior to Blanche's. Now that he feels his superiority again, he begins to act. He feels that having proved how degenerate Blanche actually is, he is now justified in punishing her directly for all the indirect insults he has had to suffer from her. Thus he buys her the bus ticket back to Laurel and reveals her past to Mitch
                      3. Stella Kowalski
                        1. The glaring contrast and fierce struggle between the two worlds of Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois are the main themes of Williams' play. These two worlds are so diametrically opposed that they can never meet. Thus, in order to bring these two together — to have these two encounter each other — Williams has created Stella
                          1. By simply having her married to Stanley and by having her be Blanche's sister, Williams then creates the perfect opportunity of bringing these two opposing worlds together under one roof
                          2. Stella shows that a meeting point of coexistence is possible between Blanche's and Stanley's separate worlds. Stella still has many qualities of Belle Reve. She has not allowed a gentle and refined nature to completely disappear simply because she has accepted Stanley and all he stands for. Nor has she allowed her upbringing to stand in the way of enjoying life with her raw and lusty husband
                            1. She has, rather, combined both worlds into one and has shown that these two apparent opposites are, if not compatible, at least co-existable. The problem between the play's two main characters seems not to be the irreconcilable worlds which they represent, but the rigid inflexibility of Stanley and Blanche in their respective attitudes. Stella seems to indicate that such a reconciliation is possible. She is not a perfect blend; however, she does show that a mixture of the two viewpoints can be workable
                            2. Blanche appears to be the weaker of the two sisters but this is a false impression. If Stella were a strong character with a definite mind of her own, a three-way conflict and not a two-way conflict would appear in the play. Stella would have a definite standard of action and would pursue this throughout the course of the play. But her definite vacillation between the two opposite poles of Blanche and Stanley is only possible because of her weakness
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