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How does Death contribute to Blanche's impending madness throughout the play?

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Introduction

How does Death contribute to Blanche's impending madness throughout the play? Death is a recurring theme throughout 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and is established as part of Blanche's neurosis from the first scene. It also provides Blanche a link to Mitch as he also has been affected by death. However the death of their romance signifies the beginning of the end for Blanche's descent into madness. We get our first hint that death will be prominent in this play from the first few lines of script where Blanche says: "They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at - Elysian Fields." This line is Blanche's first and allegorically represents the journey through her life. ...read more.

Middle

She claps her hands to her ears and crouches over. The headlight of the locomotive glares into the room as it thunders past. As the noise recedes she straightens slowly and continues speaking. No mention is made of Mitch's movements so we are to imagine that he is stationary and in the background. Blanche however is in the spotlight at the point, symbolized by the train headlight, so her actions are the vital ones. Her crouching would give the impression to the audience that she is afraid, and we can assume from the text that Mitch is unaffected by the train, so she seems more erratic than he does. Williams is very cinematic in his portrayal of Blanche's madness, and tries to invoke as many senses as possible, with his uses of music and imagery to show that Blanche is seeing and hearing things that no-one else can. ...read more.

Conclusion

She was already on her way there with Mitch not turning up to her birthday dinner and Stanley's harsh revelation that he was effectively kicking her out. It is cemented in the audience's mind in scene 9 however, when Mitch and Blanche face off and Mitch ends the relationship; Blanche's response, shown in scene 10, is to slip into a fantasy world. Williams uses various techniques such as recurrent music and stage lighting only Blanche and the audience to see to emphasize her condition. Yet the reactions of those around her in response to her madness, particularly Stella's reactions at the end of the play, leave the audience with only a feeling of sympathy for this pathetic character. Death seems intricately linked to Blanche's character throughout the play and it is plain to see that it is a major cause of her madness. It is perhaps a reflection of Williams's personal life, and is dealt with in a subtle but powerful way. Sarah Jane Keene ...read more.

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