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Scene 7 - A Streetcar Named Desire
Transcript of Scene 7 - A Streetcar Named Desire
Old plantation house and family home where Blanche and Stella used to live
Literally means “Beautiful Dream” (mentioned on pg 70- bottom)
Represents the Old South with the sisters being Southern Belles
Belle Reve represents the past as well as a part of the present of Blanche
Represents the Blanche’s illusionary life
Relation to the play as a whole
a small town in Mississippi where Blanche lived for some time. Stanley has friends who travel through Laurel and find out Blanche's true reputation.
“the trouble with Dame Blanche was that she couldn’t put on her act anymore in Laurel”
– Just like Stanley, the people of Laurel were able to see through Blanche, later gaining herself a bad reputation
This in contrast to Stella, who despite being her sister, is unable to break the façade that Blanche keeps on
Summary of Scene 7
‘Her future is mapped out for her’- pg. 75
The audience knows that Stanley has already decided Blanche’s fate but she is oblivious to his plans for her, believing she is settled in their home
This quotation foreshadows the way that Stanley and Stella decide for Blanche to be hospitalised without her knowledge
This also highlights Blanche’s lack of control within her own life and Stanley’s belief that she is incapable of making decisions for herself
‘Stanley, she thought Mitch was- going to- going to marry her. I was hoping so, too.’- pg. 74
Blanche is unaware that Mitch has decided not to marry her on account of her past
The audience knows that Blanche’s reputation will affect Mitch’s view of her and therefore feels sympathy for Blanche as her chances of happiness have been taken away without her doing or saying anything wrong
This quotation enhances the idea that Blanche tends to get carried away with her imagination and does not consider the effects of her past on her future, leaving her vulnerable to manipulation
Stella: ‘Blanche is sensitive and you’ve got to realise that Blanche and I grew up under very different circumstances than you did’- pg. 70. (Class difference)
‘sensitive’- contrasts to Stanley’s robust masculinity. Also ironic as it’s possible blanche isn’t really sensitive at all and it’s all an act.
‘very different circumstances’-highlights contrast between Stanley’s poor and poverty stricken childhood and the Dubois’ wealthy upper class background.
‘very’-intensifier further emphasises this point
Blanche’s voice is lifted again, serenely as a bell. She sings ‘But it wouldn’t be make-believe If you believed in me’
Blanche sings about the future and about make believe becoming reality
Little does she know, her dreams for her and Mitch to marry and be together have already been lost
Her childish singing highlights her naivety causing the audience to pity her
Blanche’s singing highlights the happiness and relaxation she feels believing she is safe from the secrets of her past
‘A hot bath and a long, cold drink always gives me a band-new outlook on life’- pg. 75
Blanche believe that her obsession with bathing will wash her problems away, however the audience knows that, thanks to Stanley, she can’t escape her past
Blanche views her relationship with Mitch as a new start and a way to leave her past behind her, while it may be the truth that it is her failed relationship with Mitch that will lead to her undoing
Blanche is obsessed with bathing and drinking, both of which symbolise her mental decline, and so it ironic that Blanche believes that these addictions make her feel better and give her a better perspective on life
The bathroom door flies open and Blanche emerges with a gay peal of laughter, but as Stanley crosses past her, a frightened look appears in her face, almost a look of panic’ pg 75. (Contrasts Blanche’s temperamental emotions)
‘flies’-flighty verb demonstrates Blanche’s fickle and erratic personality through her movements.
‘gay peal of laughter’ directly contrasts to ‘a frightened look’- this reveals Blanche’s changeable moods, foreshadowing her lunacy, but also contrasts the difference between her and Stanley. Her delicate femininity is intimidated by his roaring machismo.
Use of ‘peal’ could suggest Blanche is putting on an act. Just like a fruit, Blanche has many layers that need peeling to get to her centre. Her loud laughter is just another peal/layer of the character she puts on.
‘a look of panic’-foreshadowing. Scared of being found out.
Stella: ’in the bathroom’, Stanley: ‘washing out some things?’…’Set down! I’ve got th’ dope on your big sister, Stella’. Pg. 69
It is ironic that Blanche is bathing while all the past that she is trying to wash away is about to be revealed by Stanley. (contrast of washing away sins with revealing them)
Stella seems quite disinterested whilst Stanley is almost excited and giddy
Stella: ‘lower your voice’ Stanley: ‘some canary bird huh!’ Stella: ‘Now please tell me quietly what you think you’ve found out about my sister’. Pg. 70.
Dramatic contrast between Stanley’s loud accusations and Stella’s calm and collected speech. (Stella speaks slowly whilst Stanley’s dialogue includes numerous exclamation marks)
Stanley ignores Stella’s plea for him to ‘lower’ his voice, highlighting his disrespect and the idea that he’s superior and lives by his own rules.
Contrasts between Stella and Stanley’s feelings about Blanche. Stanley is confident in his findings but Stella says ‘what you think you’ve found out’, suggesting she has already decided to not believe in the accusations.
‘Blanche is singing in the bathroom a saccharine popular ballad which is used contrapuntally with Stanley’s speech’ – pg. 70
Blanche feigns modesty and a coquettish nature, but behind the veneer, she hides a much darker past.
Blanche wants to hide behind a make-believe world rather than face reality. She wants the feminine magic of the moon, but as her song indicates that moon is paper and, by extension, can easily rip.
Whilst Blanche is in the bath she sings the lyrics of “It’s Only a Paper Moon”- a 1940’s ballad, which is reflecting her situation with Mitch. This shows how much she hopes for a future between her and Mitch, which is what Stella also told Stanley.
The song foreshadows that Mitch will fall out of love with Blanche as soon as her fantasy act is discovered- something the audience know is about to happen.
The images in the song Blanche is singing “say, it’s only a paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea- But it wouldn’t be make believe if you believed in me.” makes one think of forced romance, how they are only built up illusions which Blanche seems to realize as well but she is torn between the illusion and the real world. She can’t give up her illusions but she cannot ignore the real world; which is the tragedy of her character. The image in the song’s lyrics reveals how fragile Blanche’s dreams are in that they only need one person who doesn’t believe in them for them to be destroyed.
Stanley: “some canary-bird huh!” pg.70
‘Hey, canary bird! Toots!’ – pg. 75
Canary-Bird- Native to the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira. These birds are mostly seen in captivity and have been bred to be a variety of colours.
In this context, the canary-bird represents a well-bred, obedient, domesticated bird. “Bird" a popular euphemism for a beautiful and innocent girl. Stanley refuses to believe that Blanche is an obedient and well-behaved woman. Stanley addresses Blanche in a sarcastic manner.
At this point Stanley desperately needs the bathroom and uses derogatory terms to summon Blanche out. This shows his character completely; his lack of respect for women. Even so Blanche emerges in high spirits but once she sees his face a frightened look appears on her own. She detects the hostility in the room and the obvious distraction on Stella’s face. She asks what’s wrong but Stella lies and says nothing has happened. Blanche doubts her all the more.
The Varsouviana Polska
This scene which is set indoors, creates an intimacy which could be used to magnify the effect of Stanley’s revelations on the audience or could serve to intensify the intimacy of the secrets.
The fact that Blanche is able to be present yet removed from the scene also reflects her insanity, how she is at once able to be present in the ‘real world’ yet still unable to recognize reality.
Blanche uses the bathroom as a sanctuary of sorts, she enters for a ‘spiritual cleansing’ exiting refreshed.
The removal of the bathroom from the bedroom also serves to emphasize Blanche’s loneliness, Stella and Stanley are together whilst Blanche remains isolated voluntarily in her privacy which she is always reluctant to give up, especially to Stanley.
Paper Moon - Ella fitzgerald
Used by Williams to highlight themes of death.
This music is diegetic only for Blanche – when we hear the polka, we are hearing what is inside her mind.
This memory worms its way to the forefront of her consciousness when she is recalling her husband and when she feels emotionally threatened, and serves to highlight her disintegrating sanity.
Blanche must wait for the polka to play out till the gunshot that ended her husband's life before she can shake off the auditory hallucination.
These lyrics sum up Blanche’s approach to life. She believes that her fibbing is her only means of enjoying a better way of life and is therefore, essentially harmless.
As Blanche sits in the tub singing “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” Stanley tells Stella the details of Blanche’s sexually corrupt past. Williams ironically juxtaposes Blanche’s fantastical understanding of herself with Stanley’s description of Blanche’s real nature. In reality, Blanche is a sham who feigns propriety and sexual modesty. Once Mitch learns the truth about Blanche, he can no longer believe in Blanche’s tricks and lies.
This scene is set directly after Blanche and Mitch return from their date although some time must have passed in the interim.
That scene revealed to the audience a more sympathetic side of Blanche, who was hurt and guilty. As a result we perhaps feel some relief for her as she and Mitch seem to agree to be together, hence her happiness at the beginning of this scene.
This happiness is soon undermined by Stanley’s revelations and the dramatic irony here creates one of the tensest moments in the play.
This tension continues to build throughout the remainder of the play as we build up towards the rape scene, the literal violation of which echoes the violence being done here to Blanche’s dreams
Williams uses the bath as a motif as symbolic way to show Blanche cleansing herself of her sins
This is particularly important in this scene as Stanley thinks it’s time for Blanche to get help for her mental health issues whilst she is bathing
Her long baths show an ability to ever erase her past
When Blanche says
“ a hot bath and a long, cold drink always gives me a new outlook on life”
– Blanche is seen desperately trying to run away from the reality of her past and present and uses bathing as an outlet to calm her nerves
The Flamingo Hotel
one of Blanche's homes of the past.
It is a second rate hotel in which she lived and practiced prostitution.
The hotel eventually threw her out due to her lifestyle.
It is Blanche’s Birthday
•Stanley informs Stella that Blanche was asked to leave the hotel due to improper behavior.
It becomes clear that Blanche was fired from her job after a father reported that Blanche was having a relationship with a seventeen year old student.
Stanley makes it clear that the only reason Blanche has moved to New Orleans is because she had lost everything in her life (respect, reputation, residence and job) and that her aspirations to superiority are hypocritical.
Stella tells Stanley about Blanche’s past as she was married to a homosexual man, implying that this experience unhinged Blanche somewhat and that she therefore deserves to be treated with some pity.
It is too late - Stanley has already told Mitch about Blanche’s past and as a result he will not be coming to Blanche’s birthday dinner.
Stanley also reveals that he has bought Blanche a ‘birthday present’, which is a bus ticket to Laurel.
The scene ends with Stanley going into the bathroom and slamming the door whilst Stella lies to Blanche claiming that nothing is wrong.