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Blanche is depicted as unstable from the beginning of the play. Discuss

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Introduction

Blanche is depicted as unstable from the beginning of the play. Discuss "A Streetcar Named Desire" was written by Tennessee Williams. The play is set in New Orleans were 'you are practically always just around the corner'. This means that it is a close knitted community and a cosmopolitan city 'where there is a relatively warm and easy intermingling of races'. Blanche is Stella's sister and she takes a Streetcar Named 'Desire' to one called 'Cemeteries' and 'ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields!'. This already gives us a foreshadowing of later events as she has been led by desire to her destruction or mental death. Blanche arrives and stays with her young sister, Stella. When we are first introduced to Blanche, she appears to be lost and out of place with the surroundings. She portrays vulnerability and people help her without her asking for help. ...read more.

Middle

She tells her sister, Stella not to look at her. She says she doesn't want Stella to look at her but that is what she really wants. 'Now, then, let me look at you. But don't you look at me, Stella, no, no, no, not till later.' She is loquacious though she tries to cover this up with the pretence of being an English teacher. She fills the air with benign words. She gives answers to questions before they are voiced. Blanch Dubois also needs affirmation and reassurance about her looks. She is constantly seeking compliments about her beauty and people's feelings concerning her. She always wants to know that she is wanted. 'You're all I've got in the world, and you're not glad to see me.' Her dependency on Stella illustrates her inability to survive on her own and serves to further highlight her position as the decaying southern belle and acts as a foreshadowing of her mental breakdown. ...read more.

Conclusion

Blanche demonstrates bitterness that she hasn't learnt to abandon. She is reproachful, bitter and fragile that she was alone in Belle Reve struggling to survive. She also shows anger which Stella did not know she had. The audience is given the view that delusions and imaginations were probably the only way for Blanche to survive. Her mood changes from that of hysteria, sadness to humour. Blanche is depicted as unstable throughout the play because she portrays a look of fragility, vulnerability and loss. She is out of place with everybody else. She seeks attention and wants reassurance. She is bitter and reproachful. She is also delusional and specifically fits in with loss. Light has several functions such as exploring Blanche's true facial features and exposes her to reality. It also reminds the audience of the moth metaphor as that was what the play was originally called. If the moth gets too close to the light, it gets burnt and this is a metaphor for Blanche as she needs attention but if she gets to close she will be hurt. ...read more.

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Response to the question

This essay responds well to exploration of Blanche's unstable depiction, however it is lacking discussion around why Williams constructs his play to begin like this. There's only one part in the essay where there is a discussion around the effects ...

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Response to the question

This essay responds well to exploration of Blanche's unstable depiction, however it is lacking discussion around why Williams constructs his play to begin like this. There's only one part in the essay where there is a discussion around the effects of Blanche's instability on the audience: "This already gives us a foreshadowing of later events as she has been led by desire to her destruction or mental death." Such comments need to be sustained throughout the essay rather than isolated to the introduction where you can't weave it into any analysis.

Level of analysis

The analysis here is basic, and there needs to be more focus on specific techniques. It is clear this writer has a strong knowledge of the play, giving a range of points from the opening scene. However, I would note that at A-Level a good knowledge of the texts isn't going to get you the top marks. Comments such as "Blanch Dubois also needs affirmation and reassurance about her looks." simply retell the story, and add little to the argument. If I was writing this essay, I would be phrasing this sentence along the lines of "Williams constructs Blanche to need reassurance about her looks by having her repeatedly question her beauty." By looking at how Williams constructs the play, you naturally progress towards discussing the techniques and the effect it has on the audience. I would've liked to have seem more discussion around Blanche's instability leading to her tragic downfall. When discussing this play, it's always a great start to think about its genre, as examiners will be happy to see discussion relevant to tragedy.

Quality of writing

This essay has a poor structure. The introduction gives backgrounds details to the play, and makes the irrelevant statement that Tennessee Williams was the writer. Only at the end of the introduction is there evidence of some engagement with the task. A strong introduction should be cogent and focus on summarising the main techniques, whilst offering a starting point for discussion around why Williams presents Blanche as unstable. The essay then goes through the scene chronologically looking at how Blanche is depicted. A more sophisticated essay would be looking at techniques as a group and writing about them together to form detailed analysis. Similarly, there is no conclusion here, and this is a missed opportunity to directly answer the "discussion" element of the question. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are fine here. As mentioned above, the style is slightly off here. There are numerous repetitions of "She is" whereas it's much stronger to write "Williams constructs Blanche to be" as this shows the examiner you have a focus on the authorial intent.


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Reviewed by groat 28/06/2012

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