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To what extent does Williams portray Blanche as a tragic heroine in Scene 1?

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Although there are many different viewpoints on a tragic hero, Aristotle made his views clear that a hero must fall from fortune and power, with a tragic flaw allowing the reader to empathise with the character. It is difficult to determine whether Blanche has these qualities from scene one, however there are clear signs that she is far from a conventional heroine. Williams has Blanche first enter the play in a na�ve and shocked manner to display her lack of power and insecurity in society. As Blanche enters New Orleans, it is made clear that 'her appearance is incongruous' as Williams immediately presents her as an outsider to the community. The image Williams creates of her 'carrying a valise' whilst wearing a 'fluffy bodice' is a stark contrast to the urban surroundings and the 'easy intermingling of races'. ...read more.


However, any pity and relation the audience may feel is quickly depleted when we see Blanche 'shaking all over' as she lies that 'one's my limit'. Although there is a sense of Blanche's hamartia being her alcoholism, Williams removes any pity we have as she constantly contradicts and lies throughout scene one to emphasise how the audience perceive her insecurities. Although it is seen that a tragic flaw moves on with changing society, it seems unlikely that alcoholism is the underlying problem to Blanche's 'lunacy' as we learn that she 'took the blows' of losing Belle Reve. Williams' choice to not show a clear hamartia for Blanche suggests that she isn't a tragic heroine, although it cannot be denied that a flaw may develop later in the play. ...read more.


I let the place go?' Williams does this to ensure the audience do not see her as a well-spoken and noble character, but one who struggles to interact with others. Therefore, Williams uses Blanche's dialogue to emphasise her qualities are very far from those of a tragic heroine. In conclusion, it is clear that Williams is not presenting Blanche as a tragic hero in scene one. He makes sure that any qualities the audience may be fond of, such as her fancy clothes or well-off upbringing, are quickly dismissed as he focuses on her alcoholism, naivety and struggles to form structured sentences. These problems that Blanche has are far from heroic qualities. Although there is a sense of a tragic flaw starting to develop, it is hard to determine in scene one whether these problems will have any affect on her later actions. Sam Franklin Mr Skinner ...read more.

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Response to the question

The essay engages superbly with the question, having a clear argument that Blanche is not a tragic heroine by Williams' presentation in scene one. I liked how a clear definition of a tragic hero was identified in the introduction, as ...

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Response to the question

The essay engages superbly with the question, having a clear argument that Blanche is not a tragic heroine by Williams' presentation in scene one. I liked how a clear definition of a tragic hero was identified in the introduction, as this allows the essay to remain focused on "a fall from fortune and power". With tragedy, there are numerous definitions, so I would always advise defining it in the introduction to maintain a focused and convincing argument.

Level of analysis

The analysis in this essay is strong, having a sustained focus on the audience response. I liked how there was a clear focus on Blanche's appearance, however I would've secured this analysis further by simply mentioning "stage presence". Whenever you analyse plays, it's key to show an awareness of the dramatic effect on stage. There is perceptive analysis when discussing Blanche's alcoholism, saying this is a possible hamartia. If I were doing this essay, I would've explored how a contemporary audience would respond to an alcohol addiction, posing the question whether this problem is an era of more modern tragedies. The language analysis in the fourth paragraph is strong, and the good embedding of quotes allows for close analysis of Williams' techniques. Technical terms such as monosyllabic are used well, and I like how there is a focus on the use of fragmented speech. Showing a strong awareness of language techniques will allow you to gain high marks for analysis.

Quality of writing

This essay is structured well. Having a clear introduction allows the essay to stay focused on the definition of a tragic hero. Each paragraph adds to the argument, and has a clear signpost which makes it clear to the examiner what is being added. I liked how the conclusion was sharp, as it is often a problem at GCSE level with people sitting on the fence. It is clear that this essay believes that Blanche isn't a tragic hero, and is able to justify this through the analysis used. The style is strong and allows for a convincing argument, but once in a while the language used is colloquial such as "her fancy clothes". Spelling, punctuation and grammar are flawless.

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Reviewed by groat 26/02/2012

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