Vivien Leigh: Scarlett O'Hara versus Blanche DuBois

     Vivien Leigh was an actress with talent and determination. She was an actress who worked hard even through her own troubles of her life to do the best that she could as an actress. This determination can be seen through two of her performances of different southern women. One of the women discovers that she is stronger than she ever thought she could be, while the other one becomes weaker throughout the movie. The strong one is Scarlett O'Hara from Victor Fleming's 1939 movie version of Margaret Mitchell's 1936 Gone with the Wind, and the weak one is Blanche DuBois from Elia Kazan's 1951 film rendering of Tennessee Williams' 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire.

     Scarlett is a product of her society. The outside forces in her life cause her to become a strong woman, while Blanche's inside demons and her demonic brother-in-law, Stanley (Marlon Brando) cause her to grow more weak. Scarlett at the beginning of Gone with the Wind is a southern bell who flirts with all the boys but only has her eye on one. She tries very hard to gain the heart of Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) but never can acquire it, only to acquire land and what seems to be an unhappy marriage to Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) in the end. But mainly she finds herself to be a strong-willed women to get what she wants, probably even Rhett back some day.

     Blanche, however, is a lost soul who has demons from her past with men and then comes to visit her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter) only to find Stanley, who tortures her with his commits and then keeps her away from the chance of a real relationship with her admirer, Mitch (Karl Malden). The constant rudeness from Stanley and the reflections of her all to checkered past cause her to grow more weak through the movie, until the end, when she has a breakdown with the aid of Stanley's having one last round with her.

     These trials and tribulations that these two characters undergo, cause Vivien Leigh to test her acting ability. Her understanding of both characters and knowing the way they are shine through her acting. She became the characters. Viewers know that when she steps off the streetcar named Desire they are looking at Blanche DuBois; and they realize that, when Scarlett is walking down the large stairs with her hoop skirt she is Scarlett O'Hara. These are two characters that most definitely Vivien Leigh's acting ability.

Allison Nall

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