Frankly, Blanche, I Don't Give a Damn!

     If the sequel to Gone With the Wind were ever completed, Scarlett O'Hara's character would probably be close to Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire. O'Hara has plummeted off her Southern belle pedestal and landed in the middle of New Orleans in the heat of summer. She has changed her name to Blanche DuBois to avoid anyone from recognizing her, and cannot forget her glory days by trying to relive them with little teenage boys.

     In other words, Blanche, played by Vivien Leigh, is a mad woman who should have been put into a straightjacket long before her arrival to New Orleans. The 1951 movie of Streetcar, directed by Elia Kazan, emphasizes Blanche's mental instability through use of echo sound effects and the scene where she is raped by Stanley Kowalski, played by Marlon Brando.

     The rape scene was extremely vivid for the time period, but the aftereffects make the viewer wonder if it actually happened. There are several clues that show the rape scene as an act that was constructed in Blanche's own psychotic mind, instead of happening in reality. Firstly, the paper lamp was crumbled in Stanley's hand when he was about to rape Blanche; but, when she about to be taken away, the lantern remains intact. Also, the mirror is shattered when he gets ahold of her, but the exact same mirror is shown unmarred in the end. Now, Stanley could have easily replaced these items, but that is very unlikely. His attitude toward Blanche and his unwillingness to part with money easily show this. If he had really raped Blanch, he would have just thrown these items away, and they would not have been missed.

     Blanche would have made these images of her sister's husband in her mind because it would show that she was more desirable than Stella (Kim Hunter) in a perverse way. There is no doubt that Stanley was a very handsome man. He had the bulging muscle thing going on that would make any woman on the street turn her head and stare at him.

     Blanch was a Southern belle who has wilted and begun to decay. She tries to reclaim her lost youth, by hiding in the shadows and dressing up in her fancy clothes to feel beautiful again. In reality, her hard life has caught up to her physically and psychologically with the wrinkles that have formed on her face and the light being turned off in her head. She is, in essence, a nutcase, more cracked than a dozen eggs that have been hurled to the floor in one of Stanley's outbursts.

     Vivien Leigh accomplished the difficult role of Blanche rather easily. This was most likely due to the fact that she had a screw loose herself. She shared Blanche's difficulty of holding onto men, never managing to stay out of the mental ward for very long. It goes without saying that the real woman and the fictional woman suffered a similar fate, dying from their disorders alone and unloved.

Krista Matheny

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