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To what extent, and in what way, does Williams portrayal of modern society help create sympathy for Blanche and her actions?

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Introduction

To what extent, and in what way, does Williams' portrayal of modern society help create sympathy for Blanche and her actions? 'A Streetcar Named Desire', as described by Arthur Miller, is a 'cry of pain'. The message that resonates within the play is modern society has a 'crying, almost screaming need' to get to know themselves and each other a 'great deal better'. Williams has a 'tortured view of the world' and of society, and this is evident in his portrayal of Blanche and the characters around her. Although Blanche lies and is extremely promiscuous, she is seen more as the protagonist of the play and is portrayed as a victim. When the audience first sees Blanche, she is dressed in 'white', the colour of purity. Her 'delicate beauty must avoid strong light' and her 'uncertain manner' 'suggests a moth'. From the very beginning, Blanche is portrayed as fragile and extremely vulnerable. Her appearance totally contrasts with the setting of the play and makes her seem out of place and out of time. Life in New Orleans has 'a raffish charm', and there is an 'atmosphere of decay'. ...read more.

Middle

She spins for herself a fantasy world for her to live in, without anyone judging her. She tell 'what ought to be the truth', and to her that is not 'sinful'. Tennessee Williams only believes 'in right or wrong ways that individuals have taken, not by choice but by necessity' so in his eyes, Blanche is not a bad person, but a victim of a 'tortured' society. The audience gets a true view of Blanche's desperation to find someone to hold onto, someone who will bring her away from a place where she is 'not wanted and where (she is) ashamed to be'. This is why she 'want(s) Mitch badly', he represents the last hope she has left before she becomes an 'old maid'. Tossed into the middle of a 'Barnum and Bailey world', it is difficult for Blanche to get out of the 'trap'. All her hopes and plans come slowly come apart when Stanley 'get(s) ideas about (her)'. Stanley Kowalski, 'survivor of the Stone Age', is described as everything from 'ape-like' to an 'animal thing'. He never let his guard down around Blanche; he was 'onto (her) ...read more.

Conclusion

In the play, 'Blanche throws back her head and laughs' while in the movie, she looks frightened. Also, in the play Blanche breaks the 'hand mirror', hereby trapping the true Blanche inside and allowing 'the Other' to take complete control. In the movie, it is Stanley that breaks the mirror, making him guilty of Blanche's demise. All these differences serve to shift the blame away from Blanche and to emphasise her weakness and vulnerability. Blanche manages to attract sympathy due to her past. The 'loss of Belle Reve' and the suicide of her 'young husband' makes the audience pity and feel sorry for her and put her 'sickness' down to 'sorrow'. We know that Blanche was 'tender and trusting' when she was young, but circumstances forced her to change. She makes for a sad picture towards the end, dressed in a 'soiled and crumpled' 'Mardi Gras' outfit and a 'rhinestone tiara', a victim of 'violence and anger'. Tennessee Williams 'accuse(s)...society, as a whole, of deliberate mendacity', it is his intention to draw attention to the fact that 'violence and anger' leads not only to the corruption of society, but to the corruption of the human soul as well. ...read more.

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