Select one of the following prompts and answer it completely.  Then, write a question of your own that you think will help reveal something important about Blanche or Stella.  Finally, answer a classmate's question as a response.

1. Blanche has constructed an idealized self—an image of the person she thinks she ought to be. Blanche struggles to become that idealized self. She also rebels against her belief that she ought to become that self. What are the
characteristics of Blanche's idealized self? How does Blanche use clothing and other externals (perfume, for example, and the paper lantern) to induce others to perceive her as that self?

                                                                              - or -

2. Blanche is a guilt-ridden woman. In struggling with guilt, a person may seek relief by using love from another to counteract the self-hatred that rages inside; or a person may seek relief from guilt by self-purification, self-punishment, or self-nurturing.  Other strategies also exist. Why is Blanche tormented by guilt and how does she seek relief from guilt?
 


Comments

11/07/2012 3:06pm

2. Blanche is so tormented by guilt at least in part because she believes that she was the cause of her husband's suicide. This is apparent in Scene 6 during her discussion with Mitch right before his proposal where she says, "It was because -- on the dance floor -- unable to stop myself -- I'd suddenly said -- 'I saw! I know! You disgust me...'" This seems to be the main reason why she feels guilty. There is also the vague possibility that she may feel some guilt for the life that she led after that. However, there is less indication of this; the only reason why she stopped, after all, was because she was asked to leave Laurel.
In order to try and counteract her guilt, Blanche used at least two methods. Because of her severely guilt-ridden state, Blanche turned to life as something of a prostitute, seeking "intimacies" and never finding enough to fill the hole that had opened in her heart. As Blanche states in Scene 9, "After the death of Allan -- intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with... I think it was panic, just panic, that drove me from one to the other, hunting for some protection..." Essentially, Blanche's feelings of guilt and fear drove her to a destructive lifestyle that eventually ruined her career.
This method of blocking out guilt, however, was eventually lost. Blanche was forced to leave Laurel. Suddenly, with Stella and Stanley, she had the chance to, in a sense, have a fresh start. But she was still beleaguered by guilt. As a result, she turned to another thing that could use to try and drive the guilt away with: lies. Blanche created a fantasy world in which she could be portrayed in a good, almost perfect light. In the process, she snagged Mitch, who she also fully intended to use to fill her hole in a similar way that she had used other men, although this solution she hoped would be more permanent.
As Blanche loses both her fantasy world and Mitch, however, the reader can see that neither of her methods had ever come close to truly remedying her guilt. If anything, it seems that they made it worse.

Blanche's methods to drive guilt away have not worked thus far. Where do you think that Blanch will turn next? Or, on the other hand, will she attempt to repeat her old methods elsewhere?

Reply
Kendall
11/07/2012 3:47pm

I don't think Blanche has a plan B on where to turn so therefore I think she'll turn to her dramatics by going crazy and have some sort of nervous break down. Then pretending she doesn't know the difference from her reality and her illusion.

Reply
Kendall
11/07/2012 3:42pm

Blanche is tormented by guilt because her past continually catches up to her. She has never come to terms with the guilt she feels over the death of her husband or the rejection she feels by the choice of he's male partner. Throughout the fake reality Blanche is trying to create her past catches up to her. Many times throughout the story we see her reminiscing the past which is relevant to us through the Polka music, this reminiscing is where the guilt has caught her because she believe she was the cause of her husbands death. For example in scene 6 we see this guilt of her husbands death in the conversation between her and Mitch when she says "I was unable to stop myself, and I suddenly said, I saw! I know! You disgust me."
Blanche seeks immediate relief from her guilt through many intimacies. These intimacies were a way for her to forget the past but also her way of reassurance. Reassurance because she didn't have them with her husband due to his hidden homosexuality. The other way she seeks relief is through Stanley and Stella. By living with them Blanche is able to create this illusion of reality to cover up her past. She is able to pretend that her past never happened, so she can start over in which she does with Mitch.

How will Stella deal with the news of her sister's past? Will she continually deny that it is the truth or will she except it as the truth and confront Blanche?

Reply
Kelti Lorence
11/07/2012 3:55pm

*accept it as the truth. I got your back Kendall. I think Stella will have to accept it, whether she wants to or not. There are too many accounts of the truth, from several different people, to deny it. Plus, she seems to be disreguarding the fact that Stella is not the same sister anymore that she has always known. Her actions are a bit more extreme and carefree now, an obvious clue that what Stanley told her could very easily be true.

Reply
Brady
11/07/2012 5:21pm

I think that she will have to accept. People can only deny things for so long until they are forced to accept it. In order to try and move on and try and help Blanche she will need to accept it if she ever wants to have her sister back again, because Blanche has been putting on this act for so long she might not even remember what she was like and Stella will need to help her.

Reply
Carley
11/08/2012 9:17am

I think after some time Stella will accept the truth about Blanche but I don't think she will confront Blanche because she (Stella) loves her too much.

Reply
Kelti Lorence
11/07/2012 3:51pm

1. Blanche believes she is (or should be) societies idea of a lady. Her french name and sophisticated upbringing spur this notion on into a state of complete consumption of her entire being. Blanche is constantly striving to be a high class woman. She loves to be waited on and looked at; perhaps one reason why she is so loud. Dirty conditions would never suit her, and she yearns to be known, accepted, and, most importantly, wanted in society. She uses external objects to parade airs to those around her that she is not a common woman. For example, she brags to Stanley about her expensive perfume; which we know from numerous passages, that she uses quite a bit. Her perfume is one of the first things she reaches for when she has a caller or needs to freshen up. Though she says her clothes and accessories, for the most part, are cheap imitations of expensive things, her choice in wardrobe, such as the red bathrobe, present her as high class in the eyes of others.

Stella has shown herself as a very obedient sister, always doing things for Blanche as soon as asked. Do you think she will continue to serve her sister's every whim, or will she decide, on her own or by influence from an outside soucre, that conditions need to change? What action do you think Stella will take next?

Reply
11/07/2012 4:28pm

I do not think it is very likely that Stella will ever look at her sister the same again. There is a very high possibility that Stella may decide, with Stanley's urging, that she should not continue to act as servant for Blanche. In addition, Stella will have a good deal less time to spare with a baby on her hands, making it even less likely that she would continue to serve Blanche. In any case, Stanley is showing every indication of getting Blanche away as quickly as possible, which would also prevent Stella from having to continue to serve her sister. Altogether, however, I think that it will be outside sources that will stop Stella's serving of Blanche. Stella seems to genuinly care about Blanche, and, as a result, she is very kind towards Blanche. She may see her serving Blanche as a way of showing this care.

Reply
Brady
11/07/2012 5:17pm

1. Blanche is trying to be exactly as society sees her. She is trying to be refined and ladylike while trying to hide the skeletons in her closet. She wears very expensive perfume even though she has no money, lies about her age, and never goes out in full light. She lies about her age because in society's view, she is too old to not be married. She despises harsh light because she believes it will let people see the real person she is trying to hide. She covers up the bulb with a shade, leaves the lights off when she is with Mitch, and won't even let Mitch see her when he turns the lights on. She also takes baths all the time, one reason is too appeal to men, and the other is to try and wash away the real identity she is trying to leave behind.
How will Stella change toward Blanche once the baby is born? Will she try and bring her closer or push her away?

Reply
Mary Sine
11/07/2012 8:14pm

I don't think Stella may act the same way that she used to toward Blanche. She knows now that Blanche has done all of these things, but Blanche is still her sister. I think that Stella will try to help Blanche, once the baby is born. She knows what happened now, and even though she may not want to accept that Blanche did all those things, but has to in the end, she will still try and bring Blanche closer to her because she's her sister and Stella loves her and wants to help her.

Reply
Hannah H
11/07/2012 9:05pm

I feel Stella will put the baby first in her life when it arrives. By moving from Belle Reve and essentially leaving Blanche, I sense that Stella is not going to let Blanche's craziness ruin her baby's future. Of course, Stella loves Blanche, and I see her trying to help Blanche through her struggles, but if it comes down to her baby or Blanche, I think Stella's connection to her baby will be stronger than her connection to her sister.

Reply
Trevor
11/11/2012 10:25pm

I think Stella will be more cautious around Blanche. No mom wants a liar around their kids because they are a bad influence. I think she will slowly push Blanche away

Reply
Emily
11/07/2012 8:11pm

1. The characteristics of Blanche's idealized self are young, pretty, and charming. She likes to think that she could influence anyone with those qualities and tries to. Blanche hides from the light because in the light people can see how she truly looks, with signs of age and maybe even madness in her eyes. The perfume is to make people feel better towards her maybe because the scent influences them positively. She doesn't want anyone to think that she could possibly do anything wrong, even though she's done so much.

Reply
Hannah H
11/07/2012 8:56pm



Blanche is tormented by guilt because, she is always running away from it. Blanche never confronted the causes of her guilt, and tires to escape them by running away. We see when Stanly brings up Laural, that running away does not help hide her guilt, for her past just follows her. Never does Blanche tell the complete truth, she never allows the light to fully expose the truth. Its by her choice that Blanche cannot find peace with her mistakes and disappointments, and its by her choice that she continues to hide in the dark. Blanche's guilt results in the death of her homosexual husband, and the choices she made following that tragedy. Blanche seeks to relieve this guilt by first moving to Laural. but as the guilt follows her, we see she begins to lie, and hide in the darkness of her past. The more her past catches up with her, the more Blanche begins to flirt and looks to men to cover up her feelings of guilt. But as time goes on, we see that these strategies do not result in the desired affects for Blanche.

Who do you think will change first, Stella or Blanche? Do you see Stella confronting her sister, and the affects of her past; Or do you see Blanche hitting rock bottom and confronting her guilt?

Reply
Mackenzie
11/08/2012 11:48am

I believe that Blanche will be the first to change because she has so much going against her. She has so much guilt built up and I definitely think she will hit rock bottom and fall apart, being forced to confront her guilt and have to find a true cure to it all.

Reply
Mary Sine
11/07/2012 9:41pm

2. Blanche is tormented by guilt because she feels responsible for the suicide of her husband, and possibly for losing the family home, Belle Reve. The guilt that Blanche feels about the death of her husband could be considered first apparent in Scene 6, when she is telling Mitch about her husband and how he died. She feels guilty because she believes that she was the cause of it, "It was because--on the dance floor-- unable to stop myself--I'd suddenly said--"I saw! I know! You disgust me.."" Because of Blanche saying this, the boy went and shot himself in the head and Blanche feels a huge amount of guilt for it. She starts sleeping around after the boy died and she lost Belle Reve, to deal with the guilt she feels about her husband's death. In Scene 9, she tells Mitch, "Yes, I had many intimacies with strangers. After the death of Allan--intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with...." As the audience can see by Scene 9, Blanches self-destructive behavior to try and rid her of her guilt, eventually destroyed her life and career. We can assume that she feels guilt for her actions and things that happened back in Laurel through the way she bathes herself often, in a form of hydrotherapy to try and wash away her guilt. She enters into the relationship with Mitch to try and find hope for her life and to start anew some where else, some where that she can forget about her guilt in her "old life." But, inevitably, the relationship blows up in her face, because of the way her past life that she tried to leave, got shown to the world, courtesy of Stanley.
What do you think Blanche will do next? With Stella having the baby, will Blanche have to leave? Or will Blanche have a mental breakdown later and be forced to leave for a different reason?

Reply
Celeste Yahr
11/07/2012 11:10pm

I think that is Blanche has any say in it she will be there to help her baby sister with the baby. She love her sister and will love the baby so I think she will try to stay. However, if Stanley has his way she will be gone very soon. So it will be interesting to see if Stanley will really force her to leave or if maybe he would need her help with the baby.

Reply
Celeste Yahr
11/07/2012 11:07pm

Blanche’s idealized self is perfection. Blanche wants to be perfect. She wants to have the perfect hair, the perfect face, the perfect everything, but despite her wants she ages just like everyone else. She can’t have the perfect outside appearance for ever and has decided to try anyway. She wants to hold on the little youth she has left any way she can. She is continually powdering her face in hopes of covering up her true face. Blanche uses material things to cover up her original self. She uses them though in a very strategic way. She does it in a way that you might not notice. The subtle hints she gives to it. The fact that she cover’s the light or keeps them off whenever possible is just to hide her true self and hope that people see what she wants to be. Perfect. She thinks that is people can’t see her they will think she is perfect.

Do you think that Blanche will ever deal with the fact that she is getting old and not that perfect person she wants to be or will she continue to live in denial about her growing older?

Reply
Ariana
11/08/2012 9:17am

I don't think Blanche will, unless she gets a rude awaking buy Stella or Mitch. It seems though, even if they talk to her she won't listen and continue to live in denial about her age. Or her lies might be not even be lies to her anymore and simply a way of life.

Reply
Jonathon Delatquito
11/08/2012 8:25am

1. In the play A Street Car named Desire Blanche has many characteristics that creates her "idealized" self. Blanche doesn't want anyone to now what her actual age is. The only person that knows what Blanche's real age is her younger sister Stella. When Blanche is around other people she is always saying how Stella was her baby sister but we know that this isn't true. One other thing is that whenever there are other people around besides Stella, Blanche is always in the dark with a very dim light. She does this because she doesn't want anyone to figure out how old she actually is. For instance, anytime Blanche is around Mitch, who she has a crush on, she is never seen in full daylight but always at night in a dark room with a dim light. Blanche wants people to have an interest in her but she is so self conscience about herself that she is always constantly putting on makeup to make her self look younger. One other interesting fact is that Blanche is constantly taking a bath. Blanche says that this helps her rejuvenate her body but this actually makes her skin look younger.

Will Blanche stay at her sister Stella's much longer than she has to leave or will something tragic happen?

Reply
Carley Crow
11/08/2012 9:13am

2. Blanche is tormented by guilt because she feels responsible for her husband's suicide. It becomes quite noticeable in scene 6 when Stella finally tells Mitch what happened. "It was because-on the dance floor- unable to stop myself-I'd suddenly said-'I saw! I know! You disgust me.'" By finally telling her husband that she knew his secret, she probably already felt vulnerable and bad for what she said and then her husband's immediate suicide afterwards just pushed Blanche into a downward spiral of guilt. This guilt pushed Blanche into drinking alcohol to take the edge off of how she felt and to help her forget that awful night. She also had many different interactions with many different men most likely to fill her need of desire and being desired.
Do you think Blanche regrets the things she has done in the past? (Primarily telling her husband what she knew about him and sleeping around years later).

Reply
Lacayah
11/08/2012 10:57pm

I would say that her biggest regret was probably telling her husband that she knew. She seemed to blame herself for his suicide and obviously doesn't enjoy that hanging over her head.

Reply
Ariana
11/08/2012 9:13am

1. Blanche struggles to become her idolized self because she has built that idolized self to be a young woman who has a glmaorous lie. She uses the clothes and perfume to make her feel and appear younger than she is. Blanche also tries to brag about these expensive items to get compliments, " I was fishing for a compliment, Stanley." Blanche also lies about her being the " baby sister" becasue she wants society and her friends to think she is younger. Because Blanche wants to be young, she tries to hide her face from the light; in order for people not to see her face, which might reveal her true age. Blanche also takes hot baths constantly to try to appeal to Mitch and also to wash away her guilt in the lies that she has told.

Do you thinkm Stella will accept the truth about Blanche or continue to not believe them, or not care about the situiation and forgive Blanche?

Reply
Mackenzie
11/08/2012 11:44am

2. Blanche is tormented by guilt because of the things in her past. She has been through a lot and seen more than most people. Her first love killed himself because she found out he was homosexual; she then not only had to deal with the fact that the person she loved so much may not have loved her back in the same way, but the fact that she was probably the biggest reason he killed himself-he didn't want others to know about his "secret". Although she really probably was not the complete reason for her lovers suicide I am sure she feels somewhat guilty for the act he committed. She carries that guilt on her shoulders upon an abundance of other things like dating a boy younger than her and losing her job because of it. Blanche deals with all this guilt by using things that makes her temporarily feel better about herself. She drinks heavily, puts Stanley and Stella down about where they live and the conditions, and she is quick to take refuge in finding love in a kind, somewhat desperate men that make her feel loved. While she covers up her grief she is only making it worse because those things immediately let her down and just cause her more grief.

How does lying add another dimension to Blanche's grief?

Reply
Lacayah
11/08/2012 10:55pm

2- Blanche is tormented by the guilt of many things and tries to relieve herself in several ways aswell. She tries to relieve the guilt of her husbands suicide by keeping the entire thing a secret. This gives her the illusion that it didn't happen if she doesn't speak about it. After her husband's death, she slept with numerous men. The fact that she did something so vulgar and was still unfulfilled by it made her guilty. This she tried to hide as well so that if she didn't own up to it, then it wasn't her past to own. When telling Stella that she had lost Belle Reve, she got rid of her guilt by forcing onto Stella. Then, to soothe herself, she tells lies that create her ideal reality. At one point she said "it wouldn't be make believe, if you believed in me," which illustrates that she wouldn't have to feel that guilt anymore if other people believe in this alternate reallity where that guilt never existed in the first place. She sang those words while taking one of her countless baths. Blanche used these baths in an attempt to physically cleanse herself from all the guilt that she had over everything. It did, in a sense "calm her nerves" like she told everyone, but it did this by temporaraly making her feel clean and guilt free. She was just constantly avoiding it. She even left Laurel because of the guilt that she obtained and possesed while living there. Do you think that she will realize that she still has guilt living with someone that she knows and decide to abandon all familiarities in an attempt to escape her guilt again?

Reply
Tristan
11/11/2012 8:04pm

I don't think she will. To be frank, I think she'll probably do something much more drastic soon, something very decisive and something that will not be reversible. An example may be suicide, she may also go insane.

Reply
Megan W.
11/12/2012 11:14am

I think part of Blanche wants to leave because she feels uncomfortable seeing her sister's partial success, in that she is pregnant and married, and it makes her feel "unwelcomed," which she alludes to feeling many times throughout the play. However, I don't know if she is willing to forsake the love she feels from her sister, who still sees Blanche as she was rather than who she is. Stella does not know everything Blanche has done and so she unknowingly buys into Blanche's false reality. Stella also waits on Blanche without a second thought, which Blanche seems to enjoy and wouldn't readily depart from.

Reply
Tristan
11/11/2012 8:00pm

Blanche is tormented by guilt because she lost Belle Reive, she then sought relief from it by seeking male 'companionship'. This however, didn't work out, then she was filled with guilt because of her time at the "Flamingo"- the place she brought her 'companions'. Underlying all of this however, is guilt over her husbands death, this - in her opinion - came about because of her confrontation of her husband and his homosexuality. She is unable to shake the memory, as is demonstrated by frequent bits of polka music throughout the play. By the time she arrived at Stella's, she was harboring three different reasons to feel guilty, this led to an enormous amount of guilt to hide. She tried to relieve the guilt by becoming someone else, someone who had no reason to be unhappy. This would enable her - she thought - to forget the past and then she would no longer have anything to feel guilty about. She keeps up this image by not letting people see her in direct light, by lying about her age in relation to Stella, and by consuming herself with remaining beautiful.
Do you think Stella is just putting up with Blanche out of duty, or does she really love her as much as it seems?

Reply
Trevor
11/11/2012 10:20pm

1.Blanche is tormented by guilt because part of her thinks she drove her husband to commit suicide. To gain relief from this guilt she has “intimacies with strangers” as she put it in scene nine. This scene clearly shows that she chose running away as a strategy to rid herself of guilt.
2.Blanch also creates lie after lie which causes a snowball effect. She tries to cover up her past and create a false reality for herself. By pursuing Mitch, she seems to temporarily forget her husband and the guilt that followed her after his death. She seems to have a lot of grief and guilt in her life that she tires to relieve herself from in different ways.
3. The last strategy she uses is putting others down so they are the ones that feel guilty. She did this to her sister Stella in scene one. She tried to put the loss of Bell Reve on Stella’s shoulders.

Reply
Trevor
11/11/2012 10:22pm

Do you think Blanch will try to mother Stella's child & if so, how will Stella react?

Reply
Megan Wall
11/12/2012 11:06am

From the beginning of the play Blanche is portrayed as a very mentally unstable character and it is not until later on that we find out why she acts so strange. Her blatant lies, deception, alcoholic tendencies, flirtatious manner, and obsessive need to bathe all stem from her root of guilt. She is relentlessly tormented by guilt for several reasons. For example, she feels guilty most obviously for her husband's suicide, but also for the death of Belle Reeve, prostituting herself, being discharged for her relationship with a 17 year old boy, and lying to her sister while taking advantage of her home. Due to the many reasons for her deep feelings of guilt she turns to relief in alcohol, interacting with people in the dark, bathing compulsively, and having flashbacks to times in her life when things were "good."
If Blanche's relationship had continued with Mitch, do you think he would have helped her forgive herself, or would she have continued to torment herself with past mistakes and resist genuine love?

Reply
Jacob Jones
11/12/2012 10:07pm

If their relationship had continued then with Mitch, I do think that he might have helped her. But only if she was the one to tell Mitch about her past, and not have Mitch fine out about her past from Stanley.

Reply
Jacob Jones
11/12/2012 10:06pm

1. Blanche has constructed an idealized self or an image of how she thinks that she should act. Blanche creates an idealized self by trying appear younger then she really is. She does not want people, especially Mitch to realize that she is older than she leads on. Blanche says that she is Stella’s younger sister when she is really five years older than Stella is. To appear younger Blanche dresses like someone that is younger then she is, and she also uses perfume. Another way that Blanche tries to make herself appear younger is that she tries not to meet people in bright or well-lit locations. In Stanley’s and Stella’s apartment Blanche covers an exposed light bulb with a paper lantern so that the light will not be so bright, so that she can hide her features from people.
Will Blanche continue to try to create an idealized image, that she is younger then she is, or will she finally start act like herself?

Reply
Mika
11/14/2012 12:01pm

I don't think she will ever end up acting like herself because she is already crazy and has buried her original character so deep and is unwilling to get it out that she will stay the way she is now.

Reply
Mika
11/14/2012 11:58am

Blanche's search for relief from her own guild only builds up more guilt. Her original guilt that started her problems was from the death of her boyfriend when she was sixteen. When she had discovered he was gay, she insulted him and minutes after the boy comitted suicide. Blanche believes herself to be responsible. To relieve herself from this guilt, she created her ideal self to drown her character with her guilt. She dressed fancily and wore perfume (which she pretended to be expensive, though it was cheap) and hid from the light so no one, not even herself, could see how old she truly was. She prostituted herself to "fill (her) empty heart", ended up creating more guilt. To bury this guilt, she lied to Stella and said she was never did such things. Lying to her sister made more guilt. To help relieve this guilt, she turned to alcohol.

Reply



Leave a Reply