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MonkeyNotes-A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
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As the play progresses, Stella ironically never believes Blanche when she speaks the truth, and she seems to avoid it in this chapter. Instead of listening to the details of her sister's past, Stella offers her a drink. When the coke spills on Blanche's white dress, it is symbolic of the "stains" in her past. The fact that her dress does not show a spot indicates her skillful ability to conceal her past. But very soon this will no longer be possible.

With the row in the Hubbell's apartment as a grim reminder, the reader begins to question Blanche's wisdom in wishing to win Mitch for a husband. Though the most sensitive of the poker players, he is still very unrefined and awkward. Blanche, however, desperately wants stability in life, and Mitch is her last hope.

Blanche has learned by past experience that men "don't want anything they get too easy," yet, at the same time, they also lose interest quickly. That is why Blanche is torn between holding back and giving of herself freely to Mitch. This touching scene tells how, for all her aristocratic pretensions, Blanche's hopes for a good marriage are the same as any other middle-class woman; she wants Mitch's love and respect. For those rewards, she is willing to risk being labeled a liar, for she has concealed her actual age and her lurid past from Mitch.


Blanche's flirtation with the young man, at scene's end, indicates her disturbed psyche that is trying to relive her past; at a tender age, she was married to an equally young and handsome "boy". His suicide shattered her emotionally, and she has never recovered. She seeks to fill the void by giving herself physically to almost anyone, including the paperboy. Ironically, she withholds herself from Mitch, reasoning it will make her more attractive to him.

Tennessee Williams' skill as a dramatist is apparent in this scene. The puzzling self-reminder from Blanche, that she "should keep my hands off children" keeps the audience in suspense. At the end of almost every scene, Williams hints at some new fact of Blanche's past that will be unraveled later in the play. This mystery in Scene 5 will be answered in Scene 7.

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MonkeyNotes-A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
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