Dubois mysterious lifeIn Tennessee Williams play, A Streetcar Named Desire, the character of Blanche Dubois is a vivid example of the use of symbolism throughout the play. Blanche wants to view things in an unrealistic way.
I dont want realism. I want magicI try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I dont tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth (Blanche p.117). She doesnt want reality; instead she wishes to view a rose-colored version of life that goes along with her old-fashioned southern belle personality.
Blanche doesnt want to face the reality of her problems. She wants everything to be softened and dimmed for her, just as the light is softened and dimmed by the shade. Light often symbolizes truth, which is why she doesnt like to stand in an illuminated room. She hides from reality and lives in a world of her own creation. I cant stand a naked bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action (Blanche p.55 scene 3). She had bought a little colored paper lantern to put it over the light bulb, so the room could get that mysterious touch that she wanted.
Soft people have got to shimmer and glow- theyve got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings, and put a paper lantern over the light It isnt enough to be soft. Youve got to be soft and attractive. And I-Im fading now! I dont know how much longer I can turn the trick (Blanche p. 79 scene 5). Blanche can also now look at herself in the more favorable dimmed light, where the passage of time isnt quite as visible. Under this precept, she doesnt have to accept her fading beauty.
In the play she is constantly taking luxurious baths, which reflect her necessity to cleanse herself of her awful dealings, to rid her body of the grit of everyday life and the harsh, unforgiving world that surrounds her, all freshly bathed and scented, and feeling like a brand new human being! (Blanche p.37 scene 2). She feels dirty and wants to release all her sins, taking long baths until her skin crumbled. It is her way of liberating all those problems that made her wish to start her life over, leaving her past life at Belle Rve. Arriving at Elysian Fields is the best thing that happens to Blanche, because nobody knows her and she believes she can start a new life again with no regrets, in her own way.
Blanche also mentions the meaning of her name. Its ironic because it means white, which stands for purity, and because of her promiscuity and past actions, it doesnt apply to her. .. Its a French name. It means woods and Blanche means white, so the two together mean white woods (Blanche, p.55 scene 3).
..My birthdays next month, the fifteenth of September; thats under Virgo.. Virgo is the Virgin (Blanche p.77 scene 5) Besides the so-called purity her name implies, Blanche also brings to attention her astrological sign. Supposedly, Virgo implies, and stands for, virginity. Blanche certainly isnt pure anymore, due to all the actions that she has committed, including losing her job as a teacher as a direct consequence of having an affair with a seventeen year old. Although the author doesnt state the reasons for the affair, it can be implied that it was a desperate attempt from Blanche to retain her quickly fading youth. Throughout the play the Williams shows how Blanche turns promiscuous, and why her astrological sign certainly doesnt match with her personality. Due to her relations with other men, the author makes it clear that virgin isnt a good way to describe Blanche.
As stated, society is composed of people with a lot of different thoughts and styles, yet as time passes, things change and views and ideals arent the same. Blanche Dubois isnt the classical heroine usually portrayed, but she expresses and shows how some people hide their true nature or believe that there is some type of protocol for living life. Blanche represents a deep-seated attachment to the past. Her life is a lesson in how a single tragic event can ruin the future; her refusal to come out of the time warp and cope with the real world, makes her unrealistic and flighty. She convinces herself that she has remained pure because “inside, I never lied”. She knows that her soul, or inner self, remained uninvolved in her physical encounters. Blanche is a truly tragic heroine. She was, indeed, capable of supreme sacrifice and that is one of the main reasons in why Williams wants to show and express her character through the heavy usage of symbolism.