How Does Williams Present Blanche's Anxieties

A prectise essay focusing on key themes of Fantasy vs Reality, Sexuality, Male Domination and key dramatic techniques used by the play-wright

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How Does Williams Present Blanche's Anxieties?
Williams presents Blanche DuBoi's anxiety through the use of language in `A Street Car Named
Desire'. When discussing their future, Blanche warns her sister Stella "Don't hang back with the
brutes!". The low frequency noun "brutes" reveals Blanche's intelligence and background as an
English teacher, because it is a sophisticated metaphor for men like Stella's husband Stanley. Williams
may use this imagery as a mockery of Stanley, who is often represented as strong, powerful and
primal through paralinguistic skills such as making rough animalistic grunting and introducing him
shouting "Red Meat" like a breadwinning cave man. Referring to Stanley and all men as a `brute'
suggests they are dangerous, heartless and inhuman to show she is anxious about Stanley as a threat
to her sister's safety and stability. It also may represent William's view that women of the 50's must
break free of interdependence and become equal to men. Blanche's worry for Stella is ironic
because the audience can see that Stanley is listening just outside the door and, as the play
continues, he becomes threatening and violent towards Blanche herself. They way Stanley interacts
with Blanche illuminates her insecurities about him. Stanley immediately asserts his authority over
Blanche in scene two; when discussing her looks Stanley shouts "[booming]: Now lets cut the
re-bop!" to which Blanche replies "Ouuuuu!". The stage directions for Stanley's booming voice make
him appear big, threatening and authoritative which, combined with the monosyllabic lexical choice
sounds like primitive grunting. This reflects Stanley's primitive personality, which often makes him
seem brutish and can be perceived as threatening to Blanche, because beasts are uncontrollable,
dangerous animals. The adverb "now" directs the conversation and shows that Stanley is taking
control. William's use of constantans has an explosive effect which makes Stanley appear volatile and
angry and is the antithesis of the soft vowel sounds Blanche makes which sounds like a frightened,
submissive squeak. The verb "cut" is a threatening word which connotes pain; this may foreshadow
the pain Blanche experiences when Stanley `tears down' the walls of her illusion.
Another of Blanche's worries is image. She explains her promiscuous life style by explaining she feels
she must "put a ­ paper lantern over the light..." Williams's uses ellipsis to create a fragmented,
disordered and staggered tone to sound like Blanche is gasping for breath. This may sound like
sobbing, to show the audience she is remorseful about her past actions. It is not coherent with the
complex and compound sentence structures the audience is used to Blanche using which mirrors
Blanche's disjointed thought processes to show the audience her anxiety is growing. Imagery of
hiding in the darkness appears as though Blanche is cowering away from her fears, and represents
the way she uses imagination and illusion to run from her troubled memories. The Blanche uses the
noun "paper-lantern" which connotes fragility. Paper is easily burnt or torn apart, which Williams may
be using as a metaphor for Blanche's delicate mental-state. Her anxieties manifested through
presentation are further revealed through the way Blanche chooses to dress herself. In scene one,
Blanche appears in "a white suite with fluffy bodice, necklace and earring of pearl". The adjective
"white" is a crisp, clean, clinical colour which is incongruous to the "weathered grey" and "rickety"
surroundings. This makes Blanche immediately stand out, and directs the audiences' focus to the
protagonist of the play. Dramatic irony is found in Blanche's "earrings of pearl" which make her
appear rich, and combined with colour, it is clear to the audience that she is from a wealthier
background than the people of New Orleans. Although Stanley later discovers they are mere
rhinestone fakes. This shows the audience that Blanche cares greatly about appearance, and wishes
to create an illusion of her-self. White has connotations of purity, youth and innocence to suggest

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Blanche has chosen to appear honest and pure. As the play continues, it becomes apparent that
Blanche's promiscuous behaviour is far from pure which makes her colour choice ironic.
Williams also presents Blanche's anxiety is through para-linguistic skills; in scene nine, the scene
before the play's climax, Williams describes "the rapid, feverish polka tune, the `virsuviana' is heard".
This song is heard sporadically throughout the play, which creates a cohesive structure and
symbolises key points when Blanche's anxieties become apparent.…read more


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