Scene 8

A prominent question raised time and again throughout the play is this: How sympathetic are we, as readers, towards Blanche?

Quotes supporting our sympathy for Blanche:

  • ‘There is a fourth place at the table which is left vacant’
    • Mitch has stood her up, when he was the only one she had hope for
    • ‘Is it because I’ve been stood up by my beau?’ actually addresses it; dramatic irony because audience knows why
  • The fact that she even tries to get Stanley to lighten the mood shows her desperation to alleviate the tension
    • ‘Artificial smile on her face,’ — forced atmosphere
  • The parrot story; shows that the bird is smarter than people actually think. Suggests Blanche can tell what’s going on even if the pair are keeping quiet + putting up pretenses
    • The covering of the light: reality vs illusion.
    • ‘You know why Mitch didn’t come but you won’t tell me!’ ‘What is the matter with you Stella? Why do you look at me with that pitying look?’  These quotes show that Blanche knows Stella/Stanley are hiding something
  • Peripeteia: Turning point when Stanley gives her the ticket
    • ‘Ticket! Back to Laurel! On the Greyhound! Tuesday!’
      • Exclamatives used; shows that Stanley thinks he has won, tries to hype up the situation, glee in his voice
    • Blanche’s stage directions
      • ‘Tries to smile, then she tries to laugh…then gives up both’ — even to the end she tries to make others feel better or to put up a strong front. Builds audience sympathy.
      • ‘Springs up, clutches at her throat’ — impulsive. Shows her insanity, because calm people don’t spring up etc.
      • Running into the bathroom — it’s her solace/place of refuge. The only room she can feel safe in
  • ‘Lost, frightened look’ — fragile, child-like figure. Needs protection. Descending to insanity.
    • In this scene, Stella and Stanley are outside while Blanche is inside. Maybe symbolize how there’s no escape, idea of entrapment of the situation. Leaving her alone in the dark.
    • ‘Nobody was tender as she is…’ — Stella constantly refers to Blanche here as ‘a girl’ and talks about her past innocence. Getting a second-hand affirmation of Blanche’s pure side, makes it more convincing + sad
  • No one to support her in the lonely world, while Stella still has Stanley

General notes:

  • Spear with fork — animalistic, eat w/ fingers, ‘grunts in reply’Theriomorphism
  • Stella tries to assert power over Stanley: uses imperatives — ‘Go wash up and then help me clear the table.’
    • Stanley retaliates — ‘He seizes her arm,’ ‘Hurls a cup and saucer to the floor’ ‘Don’t you talk to me that way!’
    • reinforces that he’s the dominant male, ‘Who do you think you are, a pair of Queens?’ Sorts it out through violence.
    • Blanche is a reminder of Stella’s past and Stanley’s afraid she’d want to go back to the upper-class life. Stanley thinks it’s Blanche’s fault that Stella is resisting, ‘them kind of words has been on your tongue and your sister’s’
  • Huey Long: an American politician. Twisted his words to take it literally as men = king
  • Trying to use the phone (Huntleigh, Mitch) — reaching out for the man/her savior again. Like her only way out is through a male — reflection of the society back then.
  • ‘Stanley takes his wife clumsily into his arms.’
    • Obviously winning Stella over, Blanche is losing.
    • Clumsily —> not suave, turning into a child. Like he knows he did wrong. Animalistic too?
    • There’s wrong with all 3 of them — makes them all real since they’ve all got flaws and problematic relationships.
    • Candles are easily extinguished; symbolises childish enthusiasm/energy (about love?) looking forward to everything — but reality hits you. Blanche wants the baby to stay naivety. Links in with fantasy.
      • ‘On a white cake’ irony since it represents purity/innocence, ties in with Blanche’s name.
    • Candle = magic? Mentioned when talking about Allan Grey. Reflective of her life. Since it’s easily extinguished, the fantasy is easy to ruin
  • ‘What poetry!’ ‘Goddamn, it’s hot in here with the steam from the bathroom.’
    • Everything he says is to point out Blanche’s faults, snide remarks used to ridicule her, even in the start of the scene.
  • ‘You healthy Polack, without a nerve in your body, of course you don’t know what anxiety feels like!’
    • Blanche tries to retaliate —> acknowledges that she uses baths for her nerves
    • Blanche taking a jab that he doesn’t have compassion/sympathy for her, doesn’t understand her situation. Shows a different side towards her? Like she can defend herself when situation calls for it? (Or maybe not really)
  • ‘I’m the team captain, ain’t I?’ + imperatives ‘Keep your seat.’ ‘Quiet in there!’
    • The exchange shows that Stanley is still the alpha male amongst other males/his friends. Imperatives = dominating
    • ‘Ripping off his shirt, puts on a green bowling shirt’ — no consideration for Blanche, just thinks about HIS priorities
      • Almost like a show of victory, changing into a bright/gaudy shirt like that
  • Stanley’s speech, ‘And wasn’t we happy together? Wasn’t it all okay? Til she showed up here.’
    • Blames Blanche for everything — sounds like a whiny kids.
    • All the memories he brings up is all sexual — like everything is to do with desire, like it’s a marriage of sex
    • Obvious he sees Blanche as a nuisance and tries to convince Stella that it’s the right decision to send her away
  • ‘El pan de mais,’ literally corn bread, while ‘the Varsouviana plays with sinister intensity’
    • Nonsense, so a showcase of her insanity. Losing train of thought. Varsouviana —> signals the start of her mental deterioration after a period of relative quiet?
  • Stella going into labour, Stanley helps her —> Contrast to his usual character

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