Scene 9

While we explored more symbolism in scene 9, we also get a more in-depth look of Blanche’s growing insanity.

Symbolism in the opening stage direction (all points to Blanche seeking refuge/trying to escape):

  • Colours:
    • ‘Scarlet satin robe’: colour of passion, desire, lust
      • Previously seen in scene two, after coming out of the bath, conversation with Stanley about Belle Reve
      • Seeking refuge in her desire — irony because it’s apparent that her desire is her hamartia
      • Maybe she’s finally embracing her sexuality, admitting that she’s not the virgin she tries to make herself out to be, sort of like admitting her sins.
    • ‘In a bedroom chair that she has recovered with diagonal green and white stripes’
      • ‘I’ve done so much with this place since I’ve been here.’ Suggests she has tried to make it a little more classy/like Belle Reve, something she feels comfortable with. Shows she is missing home and is unwilling to let go of her past to assimilate in New Orleans
      • Trying to put a schoolgirl/innocent front by decorating the house with delicate things
      • ALTERNATIVE! Recovered shows she’s scavenging for things now, like she’s desperate for anything she can reach. Shows her vulnerability/desperation.
    • ‘Blue denim shirt and pants’ — blue-collar mean menial/labour work. (Not really symbolism)
  • Music:
    • ‘The rapid, feverish polka tune, is heard… the music is in her mind.’
      • True indication of her mental state, shows that her past is catching up to her and she’s failed to make a new start for herself. Also foreshadows what we already know — Mitch rejecting her. Situation reaching climax
      • Only she can hear it; she’s the only one aware/who understands of her mental deterioration. Can’t get help.
  • Alcohol:
    • ‘She is drinking to escape it…’ — from the start, always her channel to escape
      • Scene one, she’s drinking to calm herself down/numb her nerves. But even then, it only makes everything worse. Perhaps shows how all her efforts are in vain, she’s only making things worse for herself.
  • Heat/the fan:
    • Heat: adds to tension that is boiling over. Foreshadowing.
    • Fan — like doom? Light in the form of electricity. Escape again!!!!
      • Fans don’t stop, just keep going round and roung. Suggests that the music etc. is unstoppable for her now.
    • Hunched over, like a fetal position. Shows vulnerability and terror, also a defeated position.

General Notes:

  • ‘She has on her scarlet satin robe…’ ‘Mitch comes round the corner in work clothes.’
    • Contrast to Mitch, seems to not care about Blanche anymore as he doesn’t try to improve his appearance
  • ‘The music is in her mind; she is drinking to escape it,’
    • Varsouviana: constant reminder of her past. As in scene 1, alcohol is used as a getaway
  • ‘The polka tune stops’
    • The fact that it stops when Mitch is there shows that she sees him as her savior and still finds solace in his company.
    • Could also be a way to build tension
  • ‘Rushes about frantically, hiding the bottle in a closer… dabbing her face with cologne and powder.’
    • Trying to appear different. Concealing, pretense, deception, still trying to project an image to Mitch, wants to fool him
    • Ashamed of her real self
  • ‘Have you ever has anything caught in your head…’ (starts talking to herself)
    • Dominates the conversation, incessant line of chatter. Senses what’s going on, fears hearing him reject her
    • Similar to her first conversation with Stella, when she feels like ‘stranger in a stranger land.’ Started to adapt a little with the introduction of Mitch etc, but now going back to panic and confusion again
    • Still pretends to be an innocent girl
      • ‘I haven’t investigated’ — dramatic irony, audience just saw her drinking a moment ago
  • ‘Wait! [A distant revolver is heard] There, now, the shot! It always stops after that.’
    • First time it is explicitly addressed.Means Blanche is trying to accept it/she’s trying to open up to someone else
    • Music stops suddenly — death is sudden.
  • Are you boxed out of your mind?
    • ‘Stares at her contemptuously’ shows his disgust. Stark contrast to his gentle nature in the beginning of the play
    • Very derogatory, intolerant. Obviously this is the case, but to call it that is very insensitive. Sounds like Stanley.
      • Mitch also ‘grunts’ in reply now, parallel actions to Stanley. Seems like his Id has surfaced.
  • ‘Wait a minute. I can’t hear what you’re saying…’ giving him the chance to correct his words
    • ‘I’m so excited I’m boxed out of my mind’, trying to justify her actions, mirroring his speech. Almost like sarcasm or mocking. Even on the bring of insanity, Blanche is still pretty witty.
  • Southern Comfort; the alcoholic drink Blanche suggests. Ironic, but also true how she tries to find ‘comfort’ in alcohol
  • ‘He says you been lapping it up all summer like a wild-cat!’
    • Nature reference, now Blanche is on the receiving end of it.
    • Stanley tries to shift the animalistic image onto her
  • ‘What a fantastic statement… fantastic of you to repeat it!’
    • Blanche’s sass, shows she still has some pride and is wounded by accusations
  • Conversation on page 86 — ‘I don’t think I ever seen you in the light.’
    • ‘Let’s turn the light on here’: Mitch forces her to unmask herself, very OOC. Foreshadowing.
    • Light: reality vs fantasy. Mitch is trying to force the truth out of her without trying to be understanding
      • ‘I’ll tell you what I want. Magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent the truth. I tell what ought to be the truth.’ These lies are what she wants for her life. Blanche is still clinging to her fantasies
        • Her fantasies stem from what she could have had but was ruined for her
        • ‘Mitch laughs’ — shows he doesn’t believe her, condescending
        • Blanche comes very close to speaking the full truth, but she romanticises things a lot that the message gets lost
    • ‘Light? Which light? What for?’ ‘This one with the paper thing on it.’ (He tears the paper lantern.)
      • ‘Paper thing’: trivialises Blanche’s possessions, also unsophisticated language
      • Ripping paper lantern off —> (more forceful actions) exposing truth, basically stripping Blanche naked in a sense. ‘She utters a frightened gasp’ — her response shows she feels violated.
      • After that, she reveals the truth. ‘And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it!’
    • LINK TO REAL LIFE: Maybe Williams trying to show that society is hypocritical, cruel. Reference to how both he and his sister were judged for things that were out of their control — just how Blanche’s mental deterioration was brought about primarily by other people, though she played a part in hastening the process.
  • ‘Flamingo? No! Tarantula was the name of it! …That’s where I brought my victims…’
    • Making a metaphor for herself; Blanche sees herself as a predator luring in ‘victims’ instead of a prostitute
    • Speaks in exclamatives, uses sarcasm. Tries to make light of the situation by making fun of herself, as if she’s trying to run away from consequences
    • ‘She throws back her head with convulsive, sobbing laughter.’ Sadness showing through her insanity
    • Full revelation of her past intimacies. Catharsis; may be relieved that’s why she laughs
      • But this is what drives her even more into her insanity, all the jumpy/out-of-place actions
    • ‘Never inside, I didn’t lie in my heart’ — may be referring to her love for Mitch, but might also refer to the innocence/trust she put in other people when she was young, but they’ve been tarnished
  • Mexican flower lady ‘Flores para los muertos’ — foreign language comes up again, as if to explain the unexplainable
    • May symbolize the death of her fantasies now that everyone knows the truth.
    • Circular weave of flowers. Suggestion/foreshadowing that her demise is coming soon.
    • Mexican traditions include the ‘Day of the Dead’, when dead people come back to life. May suggest that her ‘dead’ past is coming back to haunt her
  • Blanche revealing her life at Belle Reve:
    • ‘Why couldn’t we get a colored girl to do it?’; upper class family, the South’s involvement with slavery
      • Shows how Blanche views other races, hence her racism/mockery towards Stanley which increased tension
    • Her recount shows she was surrounded by death. Old lady —> her mother.
    • The opposite of death, to her, is desire: irony because it’s her hamartia
    • ‘Like daisies’, as if she’s the predator and the men were young, youth. Paddy wagon —> police cars,
  • ‘Mitch rises and follows her purposefully.’
    • Tries to assault her. Knows she’s promiscuous, so now he just sees her as a sexual object. Entitlement.
      • Even Mitch now sees her as worthless!!!! </3
    • FORESHADOWING! He can’t go through with it, ends up running away
  • She wants to actually marry him — wants to do it properly with him
    • Seems like she’ll never saved by a man because her past will always come back to haunt her, and men want ‘purity’
  • ‘You’re not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother.’
    • His sentence structure suggests she’s an object to ‘bring back home’, like she’s the meat Stanley carries
    • Uncovering hypocrisy of society back then, but now as well; men are looked up to if they’ve been with many girls, but women are seen as dirty and unworthy
  • ‘Get out of here before I start screaming fire.’
    • Blanche’s lies seem to be her saving grace. First her deceiving Mitch (although that didn’t end well), and now.
    • Juxtaposition: fire is usually life-threatening, but it seems to save her. Link to hell, like she belongs there?
  • Public vs Private
    • Window: like she’s trapped, but she’s imprisoned. Blanche remains inside even more as her insanity heighten. She can see the escape (she can see what people want from her) but she can’t access the escape because it’s too late for her.
    • Use fire — heat, etc.
  • ‘Distant piano slow and blue’; suggests that the worst is yet to come, that her insanity is not going to end soon
  • Should we blame Blanche or not?
    • Sometimes it’s because of herself (e.g. scene with the newspaper boy)
    • Sometimes other characters force her into demise

Link between death and desire: Class activity

  • ‘[a distant revolver shot is heard. Blanche seem relieved]’
  • ‘yes I had many intimacies with strangers.’
    • Tried to use desire to substitute for the loss of the death, or use death to justify her desire.
  • ‘What I been missing all summer.’

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