The Bad English Teacher

        Hardly anyone could forget when in 1997, Mary Kay Letourneau was arrested for having sex with Vili Fualaau, a sixth-grader at the Seattle elementary school Letourneau taught at. Letourneau, thirty-five, was already a mother of four at the time. This is a tragic example of life imitating art because Blanche Dubois in the play, A Streetcar Named Desire, written in 1947 by Tennessee Williams and filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan, is like Letourneau in many ways.

        When Letourneau was arrested, she was already pregnant with Fualaau's daughter. Though she professed her love for the boy, a judge sentenced her to six months in jail for second-degree child rape, and ordered her to stay away from him. A month after Letourneau was released, she was caught having sex with Fualaau in her car. She was sent to prison for seven and a half years and gave birth to Fualaau's second daughter behind bars. Recently, they were allowed to reunite. Fualaau says he still loves her, even though she is now registered as a sex offender. The two plan to spend their life together.

        After seeing her family die and her fortune crumble, Blanche, played by Vivien Leigh in the movie, turns to comfort in many passionate encounters with strangers. She loses her job of teaching high school English because of an affair with a seventeen-year old student. Eventually, her reputation is ruined and her job is lost.

        Throughout the play and film, Blanche bathes quite a lot. This could be symbolic for a cleansing ritual. Afterward, she always announces that she feels like a new person. However this cleanliness is not long lasting. I think this means that her past cannot simply be washed away.

        Blanche has always wished for companionship and the protection of a man. Ironically, the man she hopes for, Mitch, depicted by Karl Malden in the film, rejects her, and the man she despises, Stanley, portrayed on screen by Marlon Brando, takes her by force. She is not strong enough to resist him, perhaps because a part of her secretly desires Stanley. In her loneliness, she is desperate for any contact she can get. However, Blanche does not want to be raped, and as a result of this, her sanity suffers. To make matters worse, unlike her real-life counterpart, there is no chance for her eventually being reunited with her under-aged lover.

Jessica Wade

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