Early Perceptions of Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire"

Categories: Perception


Exploring the early perceptions of Blanche Dubois in the opening chapter of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" reveals a narrative of astonishment and acceptance. Tennessee Williams masterfully crafts the reader's or viewer's response through vivid descriptions, stage directions, and character interactions.

Blanche's Arrival and Appearance

The delineation of Blanche Dubois in the first chapter portrays an immediate sense of astonishment and acceptance. She emerges as a character who has traversed a considerable distance to reach her destination, and this journey has visibly taken a toll on her, influencing her patience and contributing to her growing hysteria.

The initial portrayal through stage directions accentuates Blanche's stark contrast with the impoverished environs of New Orleans. The reader, or play viewer, observes her expression of shocked disbelief, appearing as if she were arriving at an upscale gathering in the garden district. The delicate beauty and her white attire evoke a sense of purity and innocence, symbolizing her entrance into this alien world.

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Analogous to a moth drawn to a flame, Blanche's vulnerability is suggested, hinting at a potential attraction to elements that might cause her harm. Throughout the first scene, the choice of white clothing and uncertain mannerisms further implies a fragility that mirrors the delicate nature of a moth.

Interaction with Other Characters

Blanche's interactions with various characters, including Eunice, Stella, and Stanley, contribute to the nuanced portrayal of her character. Notably, she engages in singular conversations, fostering dramatic irony and concentrating the dynamics of each interaction.

These interactions serve as a platform for Blanche to express distinct facets of her character and navigate the social nuances within the play.

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The varied communication styles with different characters underscore her adaptability and the influence of her perceived social class on her interactions.

Blanche's Interaction with Eunice

Blanche's conversation with Eunice unveils a subtle hierarchy in her social interactions. Her responses to Eunice are short and simple, suggesting a perceived class difference. The impatience she displays, culminating in the declaration, "What I meant was I'd like to be left alone," reflects her belief in social superiority and a desire for solitude.

This interaction provides a glimpse into Blanche's complex character, revealing her unease and impatience within the unfamiliar setting. The evident class distinctions and her assertive demeanor foreshadow the tensions that may unfold as the narrative progresses.

Blanche's Reflection and Tension

As Blanche takes a moment to reflect on her surroundings, a palpable tension builds within her character. The statement, "I've got to keep hold of myself," indicates the internal turmoil and hysteria simmering beneath the surface. This tension serves as a prelude to the emotional release that will transpire later in the narrative.

Blanche's discomfort with her new environment is evident, portraying the challenges she faces in adapting to the unexpected reality of her sister's living situation. The building tension becomes a significant narrative element, setting the stage for the unfolding drama in subsequent scenes.

Blanche's Interaction with Stella

Blanche's demeanor undergoes a noticeable shift when interacting with her sister, Stella. Her openness and enthusiasm upon seeing Stella are tempered by a palpable disappointment in Stella's choice of residence. The tension between the sisters surfaces through uneasy discussions of their shared past and lingering stares laden with anxiety.

The dynamics between Blanche and Stella hint at underlying complexities in their relationship, with Blanche attempting to control the conversation to avoid confronting the harsh realities of her situation. The scene unfolds as a delicate dance, with both sisters navigating the intricacies of their shared history.

Blanche's Defensiveness and Self-Image

Blanche's defensiveness becomes apparent as she discusses the loss of Bell Reve and grapples with her perceived social standing. The emotional outburst, "I let the place go? Where were you? In bed with your - Polak!" reveals her insecurities and the pain of witnessing the decline of her familial home.

Her concern for self-image is evident in statements like, "But don't look at me, Stella, no, no, no, not till I've bathed and rested!" This heightened consciousness of appearance reflects her belief in a higher social status, creating a layer of complexity to her character.

Blanche's Weaknesses

Blanche's vulnerabilities extend beyond social dynamics to include her weaknesses, prominently her reliance on alcohol. The search for alcohol in Stella and Stanley's flat and her eventual admission that she would only drink one a day suggest a coping mechanism for her nervousness and a potential escape from the harsh reality of her circumstances.

Her unease around Stanley is palpable, potentially stemming from her discomfort with directness and the unfamiliarity of his straightforward questioning. This unease reaches a climax when she declares, "I'm afraid I'm going to be sick," indicating a profound disorientation in her new environment.


Examining the scene as a whole, Blanche Dubois emerges as a character unaccustomed to her new environment. The challenges she faces in adapting to her surroundings, coupled with the unexpected revelation of her sister's living situation, have visibly weakened her throughout the first scene, manifesting in moments of hysteria. Tennessee Williams adeptly crafts Blanche's early perceptions, setting the stage for a narrative rich in complexity and emotional depth.

Updated: Jan 02, 2024
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Early Perceptions of Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire". (2017, Oct 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/first-perceptions-of-blanche-dubois-essay

Early Perceptions of Blanche in "A Streetcar Named Desire" essay
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