The Many Faces of Blanche DuBois

         Tennessee Williams' world famous play A Streetcar Named Desire is perhaps one of the most enjoyable plays that I have ever read. I love how the stage directions drip with imagery, leaving one with the hot, sweet New Orleans mist on one's brow and the taste of cheap alcohol on one's lips. A Streetcar Named Desire houses one of the most detestable literary characters in history: Mr. Stanley Kowalsky, (played by Marlon Brando in both the 1947 stage production and the 1951 film) the brutal, narcissistic husband of Stella (depicted by Kim Hunter on stage and screen). However, it is the southern bell whose innocent debutant words drip like honey from her lips that truly interests me. I am speaking, of course, of Stella's calculating sister, Blanche DuBois (played by Jessica Tandy in the stage production and by Vivien Leigh in the film).

         Blanche is a multi-faceted woman whose deep, dark secrets are covered under a thick layer of southern charm and a tangled web of untruths. She is, in my opinion, the most underhanded and manipulative character of this play, even outweighing Stanley in this respect. Blanche's true self is never shown throughout this entire play because of her inability to ever let things make her look bad, even in the slightest degree. Blanche does not seem to want to own up to anything that could sully her reputation, and that makes her a more deviant character. Personally, I feel that if she could just get off of her high horse and acknowledge her transgressions, things in her life, especially her love life with Mitch (Karl Malden), would have been much better.

         This "white wooded" woman seems also to have a very hard time coming to terms with her age. Many women of the world also seem to have this problem; and it is my personal opinion that one's outer beauty, even though it fades, can always be seen through one's inner beauty, no matter how old one is. Blanche puts her whole stock and store into her looks and, for that, comes across as the self-centered, spoiled woman that is so wonderfully portrayed by Vivien Leigh in the film.

         Thus, I am of the opinion that Blanche DuBois' character is one of the most devious and conniving people I have ever read about. I cannot stress enough how egotistical her character is, although she did not deserve everything that happened to her in the duration of this play. However, one good thing came out of her insanity: the truth came out. Nevertheless, I am I am not sure if the old proverb is exactly true here. Did the truth set Blanche DuBois free?

Jami Anthony

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