Crazy for Mixed Emotions

         In a place like New Orleans where conditions are hot and humid, emotions seem to easily flare up. For instance, Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, A Streetcar Named Desire, provides a setting such as this--a place where anger, passion, and intimacy are difficult to handle. Most of the characters in the story, usually Stanley, simply let their emotions explode at times; however, sometimes such as in Blanche's case, we feel the need to shrug things off and try to keep a "ladylike" composure. Furthermore, at times we still suffer trials and feel we are at a breaking point--this is what happens to Blanche DuBois in Streetcar. If I had an opportunity to participate in this play, it would be as this character, not because of her beauty and ladylike nature, but because of what she becomes due to these qualities, pushing herself (with the help of Stanley) over the edge into a reality found only in her head.

         As we watched Elia Kazan's 1951 film version of Streetcar, I was captivated by Vivien Leigh's performance as Blanche. Perhaps it was Leigh's own personal trials and depressions that helped make her performance what it is. I think to successfully play roles such as this, one much have had his or her own stresses and hurdles to overcome in order to fully project the emotions of such characters. I feel I would really enjoy the opportunity to let some of my heartbreak and disappointment shine through in the form of Blanche DuBois.

         I would also enjoy playing Blanche because of her personality. It would seem to act on stage as this sweet, innocent, young (ha!) gal while the audience later finds just how innocent she truly is. I think everyone gets a kick out of knowing some dirty little secret about someone else and watching him or her try to pretend that secret is far from the truth. One has to almost appreciate the hypocrisy of others on an entertainment level.

         As a whole, I would choose to play the role of Blanche also just to be a part of such a story and such an atmosphere as depicted in Streetcar. Of all the texts we read throughout the course, it seems Streetcar really gives off a lot more passion and intensity; and I had honestly rather be part of such feeling and too-hot-to-handle emotion rather than something like the cold, absentee intimacy of Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play, A Doll's House.

         I think I would be most similar to Blanche in that I truly thrive on the attention of others. As much as I hate to admit it, I would say both Blanche and I truly desire the affection and endearment of people around us. In addition, when we are getting the attention we so crave, we want to look our best. For instance, Blanche is, throughout the play, usually taking a bath or putting on perfume. Of course, I do not really go to this much trouble; but, like Blanche, I probably would not pass up a look in the mirror before going somewhere.

         Thankfully, however, I am very different from Blanche because of her tendency to flatter herself. Of course she does consider herself a lady; but Blanche, whenever passing through a room of men, never hesitates to say, "Please don't get up." When it comes to these sorts of statements, I should be more like Stanley (Marlon Brando), who replies, "Nobody's getting up, so don't be worried."

         While there are a number of characters I have been introduced to throughout the course, it was Williams' Blanche DuBois who will probably stick with me. Usually as I read a book or watch a movie, I either like or simply dislike a character, but it was Blanche who made me feel a lot more emotion. Even aside from liking the character, I felt sympathy for her, felt her happiness, and even thought she was just a crazy tramp at times and did not like her. I have never really experienced such mixed emotions in dealing with one character, and I think I would be crazy myself if I even passed up the opportunity to play the character of Blanche and give others the opportunity to experience such mixed emotions.

Alexis Dixon

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