Blanche: The Home Wrecker

         The 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the Tennessee Williams' 1947 play and directed by Elia Kazan, showcased a mischievous home wrecker, similar to a modern soap opera villain. I watched Blanche, portrayed by Vivien Leigh, destroy the household of her sister, Stella, played by Kim Hunter.

         Innocent Blanche rode into New Orleans on a train with perfect and proper actions, with a soft feminine voice and appearance. When she first arrived at her sister's home, she acted as if she was too good for the surroundings; almost appalled that her sister lived in such conditions. Blanche first meets her sister, Stella, at the bowling alley. She is polite enough to only order one drink; and, when offered a second, she denies the offer, until Stella approves. During this same scene, we begin to learn how Blanche works. She fishes for comments on her appearance, including her weight and looks. Blanche finally meets Stanley, played by Marlon Brando, while she carefully checks him out as he changes his sweaty shirt.

         As the movie continues, Blanche creates a wedge between Stanley and Stella. Blanche refers to Stanley as common and something that the family would not approve of, especially since he is Polish. Stanley questions Stella about her sister's extravagant wardrobe of furs and silks. He knows that the clothing could not have been purchased on a teacher's pay. The antics Blanche pulls, such as listening to the radio during Stanley's poker game, cause Stanley to take out his aggression on Stella. Stanley becomes violent and dangerous towards Stella. Stanley begins to realize that Blanche is not so innocent and wishes that things would return to the way they had been before she had arrived. Blanche even ruins the friendship between Mitch, portrayed by Karl Malden, and Stanley. Mitch falls in love with Blanche, and Stanley disapproves of the relationship. At the end of the film, after Blanche has her breakdown, Stella begins to doubt her relationship with Stanley. After Blanche leaves the scene, Stella decides that it is time for her and the baby to leave, unlike the way she remains with Stanley in the play, closing her eyes to what he had done to Blanche.

         Blanche had brought more than a trunk full of fancy clothes with her when she had arrived at her sister's house. She created terrible tension and problems for Stanley and Stella. Therefore, I feel that Blanche destroyed the home that Stanley and Stella had created.

Sarah Powell

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