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In "A Streetcar Named Desire," why does Blanche find subduing her lust and sexual...

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ray-of-havoc | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 24, 2010 at 12:05 AM via web

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In "A Streetcar Named Desire," why does Blanche find subduing her lust and sexual appetite so difficult?

How do we describe her form of desire ?

Doesn't it seem like Blanche is asking to be raped the way she antagonizes Stanley ? Knowing he's a dangerous brute, she still constantly openly irritates him,as if she's giving his anger fuel,forcing him to a different level of dominance.

She call's Stanley her 'executioner'  because she knows that her streetcar named desire led her to him,that he will transfer her to cemetery.Her 'death' seems avoidable,not inevitable.  Why then doesn't she avoid it ?

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ivana | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted November 9, 2010 at 5:46 AM (Answer #1)

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Blanche is perhaps driven by guilt when she enters numerous  sexual relationships with men. (or she may just be looking for comfort and security especially since the position of a single women was much more difficult then than today. ) Her gentle gay husband committed suicide so subconsciously she may be looking for man that are different from him, more manly, to avoid what has happened to her before. Another possibility is that she feels she was not attractive or womanly enough and has in some way caused his homosexuality and now she is trying to make out with having sexual relationships. Who knows what happens in Blance's mind? My personal opinion is that she is a kind person and I believe her when she says " I never truly lied in my heart."

The fact that she was attracted by such a sensitive even feminine boy suggest something about her character. Blance's sister also says that Blanche was the most sweet, gentle person when she was young but people like Stanley turned her into what she is now- women unable to confront the ugly realities of life. We also know she was very lonely on her farm and surrounded by death so that may have caused to look for love in wrong places.

I don't think Blanche is asking to be raped, though. It seems to me she genuinely hates Stanley, especially because she is worried for her sister. Had she the money she would perhaps tried to take her sister away from Stanley one way or another. In her relationships Blance probably tried to imagine men are better than they are.( she once said she wants magic not reality.) With Stanley there are no illusions, she sees his for a brute he is.

 

Finally I'm not sure Blanche's "death" was avoidable. Maybe it was but I see no way out for her without " help from a stranger". Her situation seems so desperate, she has no money, no friends no home to return to and a terrible past to hunt her. If her sister had stand by her perhaps things would be different but we'll never know.

So this are my some of my thoughts and ideas. I'm not an expert on this work but I do believe that Blache is more than just a promiscious girl.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 18, 2011 at 4:10 AM (Answer #2)

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Blanche, in "A Streetcar Named Desire", finds it very difficult to control her sexual appetite and lust. We must remember that she was let go from her teaching position for having an inappropriate relationship with a student. (This shows two things: 1) Her appetite surpasses her morality; and 2) Her internal conflict with aging.)

Many times throughout the text readers, or viewers of the play, see her actions as sexual. She is constantly bathing herself and complaining about light.  She is trying to maintain a youthful appearance by masking her true one.

One example from the text where we can see her indiscretions is her meeting with the boy collecting for the paper.  Blanche literally throws herself at him and refuses to allow him to leave before getting a kiss.

As for her past, Blanche survived by prostituting herself. Therefore, the only way she knows how to survive is through the promise, or allusion, of sex.

In the end, everything Blanche knows about sex comes to a blistering end when she is raped by Stanley.  While sexual tension has existed between them (and most of the other men in the play), any rape should not be warranted. Regardless, the one thing (sexuality) that helped her to survive became the main part of her ultimate destruction.

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