Streetcar Named Desire and The Wasp Factory
Streetcar Named Desire and The Wasp Factory
Disturbing behavior is clearly shown throughout both The Wasp Factory and A Streetcar Named Desire with representations of how the outside world effects and distorts the human mind through characters Blanche, Stella and Stanley in A Streetcar… and Frank, Eric and their father in The Wasp Factory. I aim to explore and compare the two depictions of the disturbed mind by finding similar themes within the play and the book, such as obsession, alcoholism and the ultimate disconnection with reality.
Blanches disconnection with reality in A Streetcar Named Desire is foreshadowed multiple times throughout the play with her statement “I ought to go up there on a rocket ship and never come down” and the general disjointment of her speech which is a metaphor for her instability. This foreshadowing results in Blanche eventually losing her sanity resulting in forced admittance to a mental asylum similar to Williams’ sister Rose who was also mentally unstable. Compared to in The Wasp Factory Frank’s disconnection with reality is clear within first few pages of the book when he claims to have predicted the future by means of an unknown factory “I already knew something was going to happen; the factory told me”. We later find out that this factory Frank speaks of is a contraption he has made resulting in a wasp’s gruesome death and a vague ‘futuristic prediction’ that Frank twists into becoming reality.
An example of this would be when the factory predicts fire, Frank is attacked by a rogue male rabbit and breaks one of his many beloved inanimate objects – his slingshot The Black Destroyer – which results in him blowing the entire Rabbit grounds into heaps of smoke and mud. This shows Frank’s ability to mold his own reality an ability of which Blanche from a A Streetcar… also possesses when she I s seen talking to herself at the beginning of chapter ten “how about taking a swim, a moonlight swim at the old rock-quarry?” she says the herself whilst placing a rhinestone tiara on her head. Although Blanche seems more aware of her ability to pretend and disconnect with reality she undoubtedly share this trait with Frank (The Wasp Factory). Although both characters have clearly disconnected with the reality they both do it in very unlike ways. Blanche is lost and fragile due to the unfortunate suicide of her late husband which links to Williams’ personal experiences as in the suicide of his own lover. Likeminded Randolph Goodman feels that the play can “thus be read as an allegorical representation of the author’s view of the world he lives in.”
The second count of disturbing behavior linking both The Wasp Factory and A Streetcar Named Desire is the forbidden sexual connection between Blanche and Stanley and the disturbed near sexual gratification Frank achieves from death and destruction. During scene two of A Streetcar… Stanley pillages through Blanche’s trunk while she is bathing, “he hurls the furs to the daybed. Then he jerks open a small drawer in the trunk and pulls up a fistful of costume jewelry” this shows Stanley’s disregard for Blanche and her things and foreshadows a later invasion of privacy and violent act that is Blanche’s rape. Constance Drake, in Blanche Dubois: A Re-Evaluation, finds Williams “presenting the pessimistic view of modern man destroying the tender aspects of love”. However Blanche and Stanley have spirts of flirtation throughout the play signifying that perhaps there was more to the buildup of the rape then just an act of hatred and violence. As Stanley is constantly portrayed as animalistic Blanche picks up on this when she says “a little on the primitive side I should think. To interest you a women would have to” to which Stanley retorts slowly “lay…her cards on the table”.
This behavior is disturbing as Blanche is Stanley’s sister in law and neither of them seems to have any regard for Stella excluding when they both of them are ordering her around. As opposed to in The Wasp Factory Frank’s ‘disability’ disables him from receiving sexual satisfaction so alternatively he seeks it out and finds pleasure in death and destruction for example when he destroys the rabbit grounds he mentions “The catapult was avenged, the buck…soiled and degraded, taught a hard lesson and it felt good”. Contrasting to previous an unnamed critic countries “Frank is fixated on fate and although he unwittingly controls it he is infatuated with the act of playing God…” this critics outlines franks disturbed and almost sexual pleasure he gets from having control over the lives of other beings. Similarly in both texts characters find disturbing pleasure in things that they shouldn’t such as rape (Stanley) and Death (Frank) these fit contextually to the mass amount of murder in the 1980s around Scotland and the power given to men during the 1940s.
In conclusion disturbing behavior is clearly apparent in both texts with clear contextual links and apparent similar themes displaying such behavior. I believe both texts are the result of a disturbed mind or at least the viewing of one with Williams’ mentally ill sister and alcoholic father and Banks’ desperation to get one of his book published. The themes of alcoholism, obsession and dependency run deep throughout both texts.