A Streetcar Named Desire - How are Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan different in their portrayal of Blanche as a character who can be sympathized with?

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English Literature Mock IOP Outline

Question: How are Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan different in their portrayal of Blanche as a character who can be sympathized with?


  • Reading the play one sympathizes less with Blanche than when watching the movie. This is a deliberate choice by the two artists and thus, they use certain means to achieve the effects they want to achieve.
  • Has got to do with the differences in the art form, the audience and reach as well as the difference in background of the two artists – Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan.

Why do I feel so?

  • Tennessee Williams portrays Blanche as we would truly imagine her to be – haughty, arrogant, acting to be feeble in the face of danger, easily irritated, always instigating others and truly a double-faced person. With such descriptions we find it hard to sympathize with her.
  • Instead, we get the feeling that she truly deserves the types of treatment which Stanley gave her (except the final rape, which can never be justified). While it may seem incorrect, there is a great possibility that a large part of the cause of the rape was Blanche herself (constantly demonizing and thus instigating Stanley, trying to turn Stella against him etcetera).
  • Elia Kazan on the other hand, presents Blanche as a character who can be more sympathized with. In the movie, Blanche is shown to be a truly feeble character. We, as critics of the movie, get the feeling that life has not been fair to Blanche and that she is a creation of circumstances.
  • We believe that if so much had not gone wrong in her life, Blanche would not have become who she is shown to be in the movie. In this way, we seem to be able to sympathize greatly with Blanche. We see Stanley as being a bully and Blanche the meek victim who cannot seem to ever get out of a mess.
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How do they do it?

  • Reading the play we cannot truly understand the sentiments and emotions that are going through Blanche’s mind. This way there is a slight personal bias which comes into the picture. In other words, when reading the play, I see Blanche the way that I want to see her, and thus my previous experiences and my previous knowledge plays a large hand in shaping her character.
  • In the movie, on the other hand, we get to see Vivian Leigh act out the character of Blanche. In this way, there is very little or no ...

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