Blanche arrives in the New Jersey apartment that is owned by the Kowalskis – in particular, her sister Stella and his brother in law, Stanley. Armed with her striking features, poise and seeming forceful characters, Blanche can immediately relay what her character is all about – power, feminism, liberalism, and absurdity.
In general, she serves as the epitome of a new-age woman who has led her life badly. Her arrival immediately relegates the persona of her pregnant career-less sister, Stella, as a submissive, dependent, and traditional woman. With regards to first impressions, while Blanche can be viewed with envy, antagonism, or admiration, one can only offer sympathy and frustration to Stella.
As for Stanley, he is pretty much the male counterpart of Blanche. He is the embodiment of brutality, abuse, responsibility, sensuality, and excessive power which often exists in many patriarchal societies. Like me, any person who has respect for women would surely hate what he does to Stella. Being ignorant of the truth behind the real life of Blanche, Mitch, like Stella, is another pitiful character.
b. Discuss the presence of reality & illusion in the play. How is it represented?
The sense of reality is presented as a matter of conflict and question not only in the story’s plot but also through its characters. To start with, Blanche lived her life masked by the illusion she creates in order to free herself from the dreadful results of her wrong doings. Stella also lived in an illusion where she regarded domestic abuse as a typical fraction of Stanley’s love for her.
Mitch also fell into a whirlwind of illusions that Blanche created. Basically, Stanley is probably the only character who is in touch with reality. The play started with an illusion that Blanche created and the quest for reality is the plot. In the end however, the submission of Blanche to illusion or madness became her reality.
c. Do you think Blanche is crazy? Explain.
Blanche was already at the brink of insanity prior to her brutal encounter with Stanley. Throughout the story, we can observe that Blanche has carefully crafted her own fantasy world through the characters that she tried to portray – as a distressed damsel, southern belle or the good school teacher. The way in which she tries to conceal her secrets and the lack of malicious intent to actually manipulate other people just demonstrated her inability to interact with others in a sane manner.
d. Blanche’s first husband was homosexual (as was Tennessee Williams). Discuss the depiction of homosexuality in the play.
Although heterosexual men like Stanley were unfairly portrayed as brutal, one can say that homosexuals were not depicted reasonably in the play as well. Homosexuality was portrayed through Allen Grey, the poet late husband Blanche.
His disgust to himself and his guilt which prompted him to commit suicide proved that homosexuality was demonstrated as something that is devastating, disturbing, and self-destructing. For both Blanche and Allen, the effect was extensively disastrous as one died while the other resulted to rebellious madness.
e. Is there any villain in the play? If there is, who is it? Explain.
To a certain extent, both Blanche and Stanley can be treated as villains. Blanche struggled to ruin the seemingly “harmonious” life of Stella and Stanley. On the other hand, Stanley abuses her wife and also succeeds in crushing Blanche’s fantasies.
f. Do you think Stanley actually harmed Blanche? Do you think she deserved it?
The play implies that Stanley has raped Blanche. Regardless of any circumstance, there is no righteous justification for raping a woman. No matter how hideous one’s character may be, no one deserves to be raped.