ANALYSIS CHARACTER — THE CONFLICT BETWEEN BLANCHE DUBOIS AND STANLEY KOWALSKI
Shinta Pramudita Umairoh
FACULY OF HUMANITIES
AIRLANGGA UNIVERSITY 2013/2014
- 1. Introduction
Blanche Dubois is generally known as the protagonist as well as ‘bad’ figure from the women’s perspective of the play written by Tennessee William, A Streetcar Named Desire. The title’s meaning was also revealed by Blanche herself in the very beginning of scene when she first arrived in New Orleans, looking for her sister’s apartment and accidentally met Eunice, the owner of the place. Blanche said that some people told her to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields. The play itself was telling about human life how pitiful and ruined it would be, when you live full of lies and uncontrollable desires. Blanche, as the main character of the play, has always uncomfortable with the way Stanley Kowalski, her brother in law was. She considered herself as a superior who higher than Stanley, and Stanley himself, dislike Blanche because of that attitude of her, moreover after he overheard Blanche insulted him and found out the ‘secret’ truth about Blanche. From reading to the whole play’s script, the raising action, complication, and climax have always started because of the argumentation between Blanche and Stanley which is often involving Stella to play role as the mediator. The paper will expose more about Blanche Dubois’s character and why did she end up having conflict with Stanley Kowalski.
- 2. Analysis
- a. Blanche Dubois
Firstly, it is necessary to know well about Blanche Dubois’s personal traits within the play. She is portrayed such as gorgeous and beautiful woman as the representative of Southern Belle. She is from Dubois family who can be said as French by extraction because the Dubois’s first American ancestors were French Huguenots. No surprise if in the play Blanche sometimes used some expressions, sentences or idioms in French. She is around thirty years old, five years older than Stella. She was born on September fifteenth, under the astrological sign of Virgo, which means the Virgin according to her.
She used to be rich because Dubois family had such a plantation business from a long time ago. However, the plantation had often threatened to be taken by others and had finally lost after all Dubois family all were dead, left only Blanche and her sister, Stella, behind. Stella is married to Stanley Kowalski, an American, when the plantation was lost. She lived in very ordinary and simple apartment with her husband in New Orleans, in which Blanche was looking for her. Blanche was also typically a woman who care so much about her looking. She often asked Stella about how she looked.
She also loved to dream or fantasize about something. Remember about how she tried to convince Stella that there is an acquaintance of her, named Shep Huntleigh, who according to her was a millionaire from Dallas and used to date with her. Not only that, Blanche even told Mitch about how badly she wants to have a magic. Blanche also often told Stella how she always dreamt of flying to the starry sky where there will no such matters like on the earth. Blanche was also a type of person who believes in fortune things such as the meaning of astrological sign of the birthdays which indicates that she was indeed a dreamer who are hard to accept the real life. She knew quite much about literacy. She loved poetry and music, and even knew the famous literary works, such from Mr. Edgar Allan Poe and Mrs. Browning.
She is in the state of confused after lost the plantation, called Belle Reve, which means she had lost her family legacy. Blanche was very energetic woman, though. Opposed to Stella who always self controlled.
- b. The conflict between Blanche and Stanley Kowalski
From the first impression when Blanche and Stanley met, the two had already had such a different deal to each other. Blanche was disagree and annoyed knowing her sister, Stella, live in such a poor condition. She wants to take her back from her husband. Stanley, on the other hand, wants to hold Stella to remain still with him. The first conflict that emerged between Blanche and Stanley was when Stanley questioned about the papers regarding the plantation which he thought it was sold. His wife, Stella, had already told him that the plantation was lost, not sold. Stanley did not believe in her and kept judging that Blanche had actually sold the plantation and that is why Blanche has so many glamorous clothes within her trunk. Blanche actually has a positive impression towards Stanley in the beginning, but she started to dislike him when he keeps curious about her. Blanche also hated so much the things about the poker night which is Stanley’s habit. Stanley also has different view from Blanche that he hates to compliment women only by their looks which was opposite to Blanche’s habit. Blanche herself was shocked when she saw with her own eyes, how Stanley abused Stella when he was drunk. She never thrilled to see a man is able to hit a woman, with a baby in hers. Blanche even compares Stanley as an ape because of his animal’s habit, according to Blanche. Another thing that made Stanley feels negative towards Blanche in the first part of the play was, that after Blanche arrived, Stella was quite dare to order him to do something. For him, Stella was not like that, she was never even daring to argue with him before. Stanley has a motto that every man is a king.
Stanley had already suspected Blanche since the first. His suspicion; however, become stronger after he found a man named Shaw. From Shaw, Stanley knew that Blanche lied to him and also Stella in many things. Blanche was feared if Stanley found out about those and very afraid if his brother in law told everything he knew to Stella. She always tried to ask Stella if Stanley told her something about her, but Stella keep quiet, because she actually cannot and do not want to believe in Stanley’s story about her sister. The peak of his trial in proving the bad side of Blanche was exposed in seventh scene. Stanley secretly keeps searching more evident about Blanche who actually did lie to him. After seeking all information about Blanche from Shaw and a merchant named Kiefaber, he found out that Blanche did not resign from her occupation as an English teacher in a high school in Laurel, but the school was fired her because of her affair with one of the schoolboy. The second lie is that Blanche moved to Flamingo hotel right after she lost the Belle Reve. Everyone must know what and how Flamingo hotel is. It is a second-class hotel where nobody can interfere or disturb each other privacy things. Stanley told Stella that Blanche was no more a lily, which is literally white, because he knew Blanche actually has been kissed by more than one boy while lived in Flamingo. He even called Blanche as ‘Dame Blanche’ to honor as well as show his dislike towards Blanche. In the end of seventh scene, Stanley even yelled to Blanched to get out soon since she took a very long time for just bathing in a hot tub.
In the eighth scene, Stanley still insisted to make Blanche leave his apartment soon. He did not hear Stella who tried preventing him to do that. Stanley gave the bus-ticket to Blanche as her birthday gift to just give her a shock. The next tenth scene was the peak of Blanche’s anguish and Stanley’s hatred. Blanche was already in the state in which make her feel more so lonely, fragile and anxious, yet Stanley came over her and reveal all of her dark secrets before later raped her. The conflict between Stanley and Blanche still did not meet its end until finally Stanley called the doctor along with the matron to take care of Blanche who seems already broken.
It was true that Blanche was sort of lady that has such a traumatic of a marriage life. She tried to get rid of it by doing such a sexual activity with certain types of men. Blanche was once married to a young boy named Allan, who is handsome and just perfect, such an ideal type in Blanche’s eyes. But their marriage did not stay longer because, by any chance, Blanche found out that her husband cheated with someone else and died right after that. That background of story which then bring up Blanche to be what currently she is. Remember when Blanche said to Stella that she did not want to be lonely, that she needs somebody who could protect her. Blanche also said the same to Mitch and added that she had a long time living in darkness that is way she needs such a light to bright up her. Blanche was searching or wishing to be loved or cared by someone in which she found it in Mitch’s figure. Stanley, on the other hand, was typically a man who loves to strike everything when he was mad or losing control. When he overheard the conversation between Stella and Blanche about him, he was eventually angry but tries to remain calm because the fact that he was a commoner was indeed true. Besides, Stella had told him that she and Blanche, used to live in different way from him, and especially her sister Blanche, has a different way of live from both her and Stanley.
People who read or watch the play must be sympathize at Stanley in the first, since he is always called to be a ‘common’ and insulted by Blanche for his simplicity and ordinary life. However, as the story goes on further, it later found out that no one of Stanley or Blanche is to be sympathized. Blanche may have such a rude and feel superior but actually she is weak mentally and only follows her desire. It is her desire which brought her to New Orleans. It is her desire which brought her to men such Stanley, Mitch and also the previous men who used to be with her. It is her desire which make her to change, to be different from how she is before. And within the play, Blanche describe desire to be chained with Cemeteries, or death, and Elysian Fields, or afterlife. It is implied a certain hidden message of the play that it is good to have such a desire in life, but do not allow that desire to swallow you up and take control of you because it will only bring you to such a destruction. In the end, throughout the long ‘battle’ between Blanche and Stanley, it seems that Stanley has finally become the winner. He is almost angered Mitch as well as Stella for doing that, sending her to hospital, to Blanche. Stanley himself also does not portray a real good figure, but he always had Stella forgiven him. While Blanche, she is stuck in her fantasy and always believe in her good fortune to get a perfect and happy life witch such a perfect man. She once lost someone she loved and that make her allowing her desire controlling her in which later only bring her to such a tragic end.
William, Tennessee. A streetcar named desire. 1956. London: Martin Secker and Warburg Limited