Stanley and Blanche relationship essay

An essay on the relationship between Stanley and Blanche in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

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  • Created on: 05-04-13 16:48
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`Stanley and Blanche's relationship is tense and potentially dangerous.' To what extent do
you consider this to be a valid statement?
One of the first instances that begins to hint at the rising tension between Stanley and Blanche takes
place in Scene 2, as Stanley starts to doubt Blanche's honesty in regards to Belle Reve: "She didn't
show you no papers, no deed of sale or nothing like that, huh?" There is a tone of accusation in
Stanley's words, as rather than asking whether or not she had shown Stella the papers, he instead
assumes she hasn't and then seeks Stella's clarification. Stanley's hastiness to investigate the papers
highlights his growing suspicion that Blanche owes him something, and emphasizes his almost
immediate mistrust towards her. Stanley is also quick to voice his presumptions to Stella, implying he
is confident his suspicions are true: "It looks to me like you have been swindled, baby, and when
you're swindled under the Napoleonic code I'm swindled too. And I don't like to be swindled."
Stanley immediately expects the worst from Blanche and highlights that he takes this deception
personally by relating it to himself through Stella. The statement `and I don't like to be swindled'
suggests a hidden threat and begins to hint at the growing tension between Stanley and Blanche.
The use of stage directions within Scene 2 also convey rising tension and an uneasiness between
Stanley and Blanche's relationship, particularly as Stanley makes the decision to go through Blanche's
belongings: "[He crosses to the trunk, shoves it roughly open and begins to open compartments]".
The trunk contains everything that Blanche has, and so Stanley's interfering with it is symbolic of him
asserting himself over her completely. These actions are also proleptic of the rape as Stanley has
invaded Blanche's privacy, showing his dominance over the situation and symbolizing his role as the
alpha-male, meaning he seeks to get what he wants and refuses to let anything interfere with his
own plans or views. The use of the word `roughly' also suggests his potentially violent nature and
highlights his lack of care and disregard for Blanche's feelings. The stage directions in this scene also
imply a lingering and powerful threat towards Blanche as Stanley finishes searching through her
belongings: "[He kicks the trunk partly closed]". The act of kicking the trunk `partly' closed hints that
there is unfinished business left to deal with and suggests that Stanley plans on coming back to the
problems between him and Blanche and sorting them out in whatever way he deems necessary.
Williams's further careful use of stage direction also helps to hint at the potential danger between
Stanley and Blanche's relationship as Stanley continually invades Blanche's privacy through symbolic
gestures: "[She closes the drapes]" and "[He crosses through the drapes with a smouldering look]".
Stanley passes through the drapes that Blanche had previously closed, again emphasizing his power
in the situation and his ability to overpower others. The use of the phrase `smouldering look' implies
his intense and barely suppressed anger towards Blanche and her actions, again working to indicate
the silent threat he holds towards Blanche. Alternatively, the term `smouldering' could be seen to
imply the sexual tension between the pair which is also similarly hinted at throughout the play.
However, Blanche also attempts to defend herself in these situations and remove the threat Stanley
bears: "I hurt him the way you would like to hurt me, but you can't." Blanche clearly acknowledges
that she is fully aware of Stanley's wish to `hurt' her, but also states confidently that he cannot and
highlights herself as more powerful than she may initially seem. Stage directions are also used to
suggest Blanche's unwavering confidence to not let Stanley see her as weak or easy to dominate:
"[He stops short at sight of Blanche in the chair. She returns his look without flinching]". Blanche's
actions are an attempt to portray herself as a strong character and hold back the threat that Stanley
tries to impose upon her. However, this refusal to back down could also work against Blanche, as it

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In conclusion, I strongly agree with the statement that Stanley and Blanche's relationship is tense and
potentially dangerous, as it is made evident even from the beginning scenes of the play that the two
characters consistently oppose each other. Despite Blanche's attempts to prove herself to be able to
hold her own against Stanley's silent but threatening body language or suggestive language, Stanley
is portrayed as dangerous and more dominant over her and everyone else in the play.…read more

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