Life of Illusion

         Blanche DuBois from the 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, is a character living in a fantasy world. She married a young boy when she herself was extremely young. Unfortunately he turns out to be homosexual; she then insults him until he ends up shooting himself. In the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan, we discover the whole truth when Blanche (Vivien Leigh) is talking with Mitch (Karl Malden). Throughout the film one hears the music they were dancing to and then the gunshot. Blanche tells him that her husband had disgusted her by being weak, and that is what had caused him to kill himself. Clearly this incident has affected the rest of her life.

         After the death of her young husband, she travels her limited southern world, looking for something or someone to fill the hole in her heart. She does this by becoming very promiscuous. However, she seems to try to stay pure in her head throughout it. She wants to be viewed the way she wants and not the way she is. She also pursues young boy students and gets fired from her teaching job for doing so. In the play and movie Blanche tries to seduce a paperboy, and one cannot help but cheer the young boy on as he leaves the apartment confused and a bit violated.

         When she first arrives in the French Quarter, she hides her true self under the façade of a pure, innocent woman, wearing a white dress in the movie. She continues to live in her illusion and tries to suck others into it as well. She buys paper lanterns and bathes frequently, all to add to this illusion. Blanche would have sucked Stella (Kim Hunter) into the fake life if only Stanley (Marlon Brando) had not been so protective of Stella and doubtful of Blanche. Blanche does pull Mitch into her imaginary world though, and he believes in it so much that he asks her to marry him. However, this wonderful ending does not last for long.

         Stanley finds out the truth about Blanche and tells Mitch, who rips away Blanche's veil of illusion for a time until she is raped by Stanley and sinks further into madness. She is, thus, destined to be carted off to a country asylum to be treated for her illusions.

Theresa Skinner

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