A Streetcar Named Desire – A Tragic Hero

There are nine types of heroes in this world, each of them with their own unique stories, plots, cliches etc. Among those is the classic tragic hero, one who is destined to fail no matter what. In a Streetcar Named Desire, the tragic hero is Blanche Dubois, an aging Southern Belle living in a state of perpetual panic about her fading beauty. In this essay it will be discussed what makes Blanche a tragic hero and how she compares to a typical tragic hero.

A typical tragic hero is first and foremost, born of noble stature. This gives the hero something to fall from, so they can “fall from grace” (Avril Lavigne, Nobody’s Home). Blanche Dubois born in Laurel, Mississippi, to a wealthy family. She is a former schoolteacher who had been evicted from Belle Reve (a family home) after being declared a woman of loose morals. This was because years earlier, Blanche’s husband committed suicide after she expressed her distaste on his sexuality. She later had many affairs trying to numb her grief on the death of her husband.

The second condition for a tragic hero is what is called Hamartia, a tragic flaw that causes the downfall of the hero. Blanche’s tragic flaw is that she is dependant on men, so much so that she makes choices and does things that are morally questionable. She manipulates and lies to potential suitors to make herself seem more attractive and younger-which in her mind is the only way a man will love her. She does this with Harold “Mitch” Mitchell and it seems to be working until Mitch is informed of all the lies he’s been fed, at which point Mitch breaks up with Blanche and leaves her vulnerable for Stanley to rape.

The reversal of fortune, peripeteia, is when the fortunate hero is down on his luck. In Blanche’s case, she loses Belle Reve, her husband is a homosexual and dead, she is evicted from her own town and is losing her beauty. She used to be a wealthy and beautiful Southern belle with a loving family and kind husband but her luck changed directions and she lost everything she held dear.

One of the most obvious conditions of a tragic hero is nemesis, the fate that cannot be reversed. In other words, no matter what the hero tries or does their fate is sealed. Blanche’s fate is inevitable, all people can do is watch as she falls deeper and deeper into her delusions and misconceptions of reality.

In the end of the tragedy, the audience should be left feeling pity or fear after witnessing the downfall of the tragic hero, catharsis. This is because the punishment dealt to the hero is not wholly deserved, the punishment far exceeds the crime. Blanche was a sad and confused woman who was looking for comfort and someone to take care of her.

She lied and manipulated people to try and get the happy life she wanted but that did not mean she deserved to be raped, abandoned by her own sister and publicly humiliated. Blanche herself said “It [deliberate cruelty] is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing I have never, never been guilty of.” (Williams, Scene 10 Pg 126)

Anagnoririsis is the recognition or discovery made by the tragic hero, the point in time when the hero realizes what went wrong and why. Most other tragedies like Hamlet and Mcbeth feature this but this does not happen to Blanche.

In the end Blanche was sent to a mental institution, she never gained any knowledge of what truly happened and why. In this way, it could be said that Blanche is not your typical tragic hero because she does not meet this point but that is not a bad thing. Blanche is a unique tragic hero who will never know what went wrong as she has submerged herself in her own little world.

A typical, yet unique, tragic hero, Blanche did her best to be happy, her only goal. Unfortunately for her, she did not go about the right way of doing it. The wrong people were angered and others tried to force Blanche to face reality.

Blanche was unable to let go of the walls that protected her from the harsh truth, and so she fell from grace. The final scene in which Blanche utters her most famous line “…I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”, is the sad culmination of Blanche’s vanity and total dependence on men for happiness.

A typical tragic hero is first and foremost, born of noble stature. This gives the hero something to fall from, so they can “fall from grace” (Avril Lavigne, Nobody’s Home). Blanche Dubois born in Laurel, Mississippi, to a wealthy family.

She is a former schoolteacher who had been evicted from Belle Reve (a family home) after being declared a woman of loose morals. This was because years earlier, Blanche’s husband committed suicide after she expressed her distaste on his sexuality. She later had many affairs trying to numb her grief on the death of her husband.

The second condition for a tragic hero is what is called Hamartia, a tragic flaw that causes the downfall of the hero. Blanche’s tragic flaw is that she is dependant on men, so much so that she makes choices and does things that are morally questionable.

She manipulates and lies to potential suitors to make herself seem more attractive and younger-which in her mind is the only way a man will love her. She does this with Harold “Mitch” Mitchell and it seems to be working until Mitch is informed of all the lies he’s been fed, at which point Mitch breaks up with Blanche and leaves her vulnerable for Stanley to rape.

The reversal of fortune, peripeteia, is when the fortunate hero is down on his luck. In Blanche’s case, she loses Belle Reve, her husband is a homosexual and dead, she is evicted from her own town and is losing her beauty. She used to be a wealthy and beautiful Southern belle with a loving family and kind husband but her luck changed directions and she lost everything she held dear.

One of the most obvious conditions of a tragic hero is nemesis, the fate that cannot be reversed. In other words, no matter what the hero tries or does their fate is sealed. Blanche’s fate is inevitable, all people can do is watch as she falls deeper and deeper into her delusions and misconceptions of reality.

In the end of the tragedy, the audience should be left feeling pity or fear after witnessing the downfall of the tragic hero, catharsis. This is because the punishment dealt to the hero is not wholly deserved, the punishment far exceeds the crime. Blanche was a sad and confused woman who was looking for comfort and someone to take care of her.

She lied and manipulated people to try and get the happy life she wanted but that did not mean she deserved to be raped, abandoned by her own sister and publicly humiliated. Blanche herself said “It [deliberate cruelty] is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing I have never, never been guilty of.” (Williams, Scene 10 Pg 126)

Anagnorsis is the recognition or discovery made by the tragic hero, the point in time when the hero realizes what went wrong and why. Most other tragedies like Hamlet and Mcbeth feature this but this does not happen to Blanche.

In the end Blanche was sent to a mental institution, she never gained any knowledge of what truly happened and why. In this way, it could be said that Blanche is not your typical tragic hero because she does not meet this point but that is not a bad thing. Blanche is a unique tragic hero who will never know what went wrong as she has submerged herself in her own little world.

A typical, yet unique, tragic hero, Blanche did her best to be happy, her only goal. Unfortunately for her, she did not go about the right way of doing it. The wrong people were angered and others tried to force Blanche to face reality.

Blanche was unable to let go of the walls that protected her from the harsh truth, and so she fell from grace. The final scene in which Blanche utters her most famous line “…I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”, is the sad culmination of Blanche’s vanity and total dependence on men for happiness.