Tennessee Williams is described as having created fugitives. Discuss how Blanche is a fugitive, and from what she is fleeing.

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Tennessee Williams is described as having created fugitives. Discuss how Blanche is a fugitive, and from what she is fleeing.

There are very few moments in modern theatrical history that are truly worth recalling. In 1947, however, Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire' was instrumental in revolutionising the very mindset of the theatrical world. To Williams, the polite drawing room comedy, which was still the staple diet available for the theatregoer, was unrealistic. In response, he left a trail of the shattered pieces of the 'American Dream' in his wake, focusing on the vitality - or lack thereof - of those, who, because of their lack of money and privileges, have to struggle actively to cope with all the problems that arise from their deprivation. Or, as Williams himself put it, "[I like to write about people]...that have problems, people that have to fight...that come close to cracking."

Blanche DuBois is one such character. Her story began with her teenage marriage to Allan, whose silent suffering caused by his sexuality was mistaken for sensitivity by Blanche, a feature she found very attractive. She loved Allan unendurably:

"All at once and much, much too completely. It was like you suddenly turned a blinding

light on something had always been half in shadow..."

Yet this light is 'switched off' when Allan - overcome with grief about his homosexuality - commits suicide, leaving Blanche feeling incredibly vulnerable and rejected. Thus begins her escape from the light and the painful memories of Allan - she finds the darkness comforting, and it is in the darkness within her mind that she creates a retreat, a shelter from the harsh truth of reality. In retreating within her mind, however, she has begun her descent into insanity, and her reactions to the light are such that exposure threatens the very sanctity of her refuge: "Don't turn on the light!" Williams therefore uses light and darkness throughout the play to symbolise reality and illusion respectively. Indeed, there are very few instances when Blanche is actually seen in bright light. So pronounced is her fear light - or indeed reality - that closing her eyes, shutting out the light, even for a few moments, can seem like a quick and easy escape.
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In withdrawing from the light and reality, Blanche assumes a new persona, a sexual predator on the hunt for Allan's replacement. This can be seen in Scene Three especially, when she attempts to "ensnare" Mitch - She takes off the blouse and stands in her pink silk brassiere and white skirt in the light through the portieres. Her sexual prowess here is at a peak, and in the dim shafts of light through the portieres she is no longer Blanche the widow. At least for a while. Though in truth this is another form of escape for Blanche ...

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