Two of a Kind

     Two southern belles in two different works certainly are "two of a kind." The women being referred to are Blanche DuBois, played by Vivien Leigh, in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the 1947 play by Tennessee Williams, and Blanche Devearaux, portrayed by Rue McLanahan, in a sitcom The Golden Girls a few years ago. Both women have more than a name in common; they have almost identical characters. The main similarities are their southern charm, their unwillingness to accept their age, and that they love men.

     Blanche DuBois is introduced in the beginning of the film as Stella's (Kim Hunter) sister who came to visit from Mississippi. Blanche Devearaux has also grown up in the South, and she now lives in Miami. Southern charm is an important asset to both. DuBois uses this to her advantage with Mitch (Karl Malden). She would have liked him to think that she is old-fashioned and a "lady." Her true character becomes known towards the end of the film when Stanley (Marlon Brando) investigates her acquaintances at the Flamingo. Blanche Devearaux, on the other hand, tends to use her southern charm and friendly demeanor to take over when men are around. This Blanche likes a man that has gentlemanly manners not necessarily be a gentleman.

     The problem of growing older is also a consistent quality in the women. Blanche DuBois likes to hide her age by going out only at night and keeping the lights dim. Devearaux just flat out lies about her age and still thinks of her as young and attractive. She seems to have a higher self-esteem about her than DuBois has. Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire has to be told every five minutes that she looks wonderful. Blanch Devearaux, like Blanche DuBois, has insecurities at times about her becoming undesirable by men, as she grows older. Both women are unable to accept the fact that everyone grows older.

     The love of men is main quality that holds the comparison together. Blanche DuBois's first love was a young boy that she later found out was gay. When she caught him in bed with a man, she was mortified; and later he shot himself. Blanche Devearaux coincidentally had a brother that was gay, and she could not accept it either. Blanche Devearaux also married young, and he died a few years into their marriage. He was probably one of the only men that she ever loved. In the sitcom Blanche has flings in every episode, she never thinks of having a relationship with any of them. The ladies that she lives with know how she is when she goes out with a man, and are up front about her behavior. It is just Blanche; she likes to be in the companionship of men.

     These women have a dependence on men, and their lives revolve around these acquaintances. It is due to Stanley that Blanche loses her mind in the end. Throughout their lives they have desired that companionship and that protection of men. For Blanche DuBois it is her love for men that causes her to loses her essence and her reputation.

Leah Sims

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