Dat Street Car Named Desire
Blanche’s Identity and How It Was Foreshadowed In Blanch’s First Lines Of The Play In Tennesse Williams’ A Street Car Named Desire, Williams sets up the character of Blanche as soon as she is introduced in the play. Her desire, her heartbreak, her downfall, and her extremely complex past are all foreshadowed in Blanch’s first lines of the play, “They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields! ” (Blanche Du Bois, 6).
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The street-cars, desire and cemeteries, are symbolic to Blanche’s character, even the town’s name, Elysian Fields, has a symbolic meaning that is essential to the development and foreshadowing of further things to come in the play. The, “street-car named Desire” (6), symbolises Blanche’s sexual, and emotional desire. Blanche’s desire is apparent right from the point she was first introduced. We see Blanche’s desire to be complimented on her looks in her first conversation with Stella, “You haven’t said a word about my appearance” (14).
This suggests that Blanche is a very insecure individual as she frequently needs to be reminded that she looks okay. It seemed that Blanche and Stanley have had a sexual tension between them and even Stanley admits to it in scene 10, “We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning! ” (162). Blanche also had a desire for a husband, someone to take care of her. She thought that Mitch could be this man, and Mitch thought so too, “You need somebody. And I need somebody too, could it be – me and you Blanche? ” (Mitch 116).
Blanche’s desire for a husband almost gets her one, ironically it was a different desire in her past that ruined her chances with Mitch. The street-car “cemeteries” (6), foreshadows the relationship between Blanche and death. Later in the scene, we find out that Blanche had lost hers and Stella’s plantation. There were an abundance of other deaths in the family that Blanche had to deal with and pay for. “Death is expensive! ” (22), Blanche says to Stella explaining herself. “That long parade to the Graveyard! Father, Mother!
Margaret, That dreadful way! So big with it,…(scene 1, pg 21)” Blanche obviously couldn’t afford all these funerals on a teaching salary. Stanley implies that Blanche had been prostituting in Laurel at The Flamingo, “The Flamingo is used to all kinds of goings-on. But even the management of the Flamingo was impressed by Dame Blanche! ” (120). Ultimately Blanche was trying to restore her life after the copious amounts of deaths that she witnessed. Blanche is convinced she caused her young husbands suicide by telling him “You disgust me…” (115).
Blanche claims that her husband, Allan, was the only person she ever loved. After that happened she must have been left with a huge hole inside her and just looking for someone to fill it. Her job was lost because of a 17 year old who, “she’d gotten mixed up with! (Stanley, 122) which gives reason to suggest she was trying to relive the best days of her life. It seems like she is trying to doing the same thing in scene 5 with the young man she encounters who makes her “mouth water. (98)”
The heaven of the God’s, Elysian Fields, the last thing that was mentioned by Blanche in her opening lines. Blanche thought Elysian Field would be the escape from her hell in Laurel, however, it turns out she brought that with her. Her past in Laurel was obviously a dark and sad one, with all of the deaths and the prostitution. Blanche’s downfall was ultimately brought on by herself and the choices she had made. Elysian fields may have been a paradise before Blanche but after arriving she caused issues in the social group of friends, and Blanche eventually drove herself insane.
Elysian Fields wasn’t the escape she expected and so, she started making up her own fantasies telling Stanley in scene 10, “Mr. Shep Huntleigh … inviting me on a cruise of the Caribbean! ” (153). Fantasies like this continued and after the apparent rape, Blanche appeared to go insane, at least that is what her sister, Stella, didn’t believe anything she said, Stella “couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley. ” (165). The lines “They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields! scene 1, pg 6)” ultimately set up the character of Blanche for the rest of the play. Every theme and idea mentioned in these lines stayed and developed with Blanche throughout the entire play. Blanche Du Bois is an extremely complex character to understand, sometimes you sympathise with her, sometimes you think she is evil. It doesn’t matter which way you perceive Blanche’s character, she is essential to the play and she is arguably the most important character in the play.