We Should Have Seen It Coming

         In the story A Streetcar Named Desire, directed as a movie in 1951 by Elia Kazan and written as a play in 1947 by Tennessee Williams, the main character, Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh on screen) is an extremely crazy woman. After reading the play and watching the film, I found that it becomes more apparent to the audience that this woman is very unstable. What makes this story interesting is when one goes back afterwards to re-read the story, he or she will catch so many of the foreshadowing lines Tennessee Williams has written for Blanche.

         During the first few scenes of the story Blanche seems like your normal woman, one who is widowed and living in a world of money and men. The only thing that seems out of the ordinary for a woman from a supposedly upper-class upbringing is the fact that any time Blanche is nervous she asks for a drink. Each time she does get a drink, she insists one is her limit but then always ends up drinking two or three.

         Her story begins to unravel after Stanley (Marlon Brando) tries to beat up Stella (Kim Hunter) after the poker game. Blanche insists that the two women must get out of New Orleans. While this is a sensible idea, she talks about some man she had dated in her school days. She begins to write him a letter saying her and her sister are in a desperate situation. Blanche then decides being direct will not work, so she approaches it as if she is living in the lap of luxury but is trying to find somewhere to vacation. This letter combined with Blanche's line to Stanley where she says, "I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman's charm is fifty percent illusion." Here we begin to see Blanche truly is living in a fantasy world.

         Blanche then begins to fall for Stanley's friend Harold "Mitch" Mitchell (Karl Malden). The audience can easily see, by this point in the story, that Blanche does not have true feelings for Mitch but rather just wants the attention of a man. This is obvious because after Blanche tells her sister she likes Mitch we see her flirting overtly with the paperboy (Wright King).

         When the romance between Mitch and Blanche begins to fizzle because of Stanley's meddling, Blanche says a very classic line to Mitch: "I don't want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic. I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things. I don't tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth." This is a major indicator that Blanche is living in a fantasy world all her own. From here on out Blanche's character becomes more obviously off-her-rocker.

         In the second-to-last scene of the story. Blanche begins to antagonize Stanley when the two of them are in the apartment alone. She begins telling him a lie about having gotten a telegram and an invitation from an old admirer, Shep Huntly. By this point the audience knows Blanche is making the whole story up to just to show off in front of Stanley.

         In the very last scene right before Stanley and Stella have Blanche taken to the mental institution, Blanche asks, the room full of people, "Is there something wrong with me?" This line tells the audience that Blanche may finally realize that she has been a little off-her-rocker for a very long while. Then poetically the story ends for Blanche saying to the gentlemanly doctor (Richard Garrick), "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

Alichia Sawitoski

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