A Streetcar Named Desire Questions and Answers
by Tennessee Williams

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Scene 5: How does Blanche present herself in a way to deceive Mitch?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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It's not so much that Blanche deceives Mitch; it's more that Mitch gets the wrong idea about Blanche. He puts her on a pedestal, believing her to be a fine, upstanding southern lady. He projects all his desires and fantasies onto her, creating an ideal of womanhood which she can never attain.

When he finally discovers the terrible truth about what Blanche is really like, Mitch's ideal is destroyed completely. Instead of blaming himself for making Blanche into something she isn't, he lashes out at Blanche, blaming her for misleading him. Yes, Blanche may have been a little economical with the truth, but she could hardly come right out and tell Mitch about her sordid past. In this regard, her sins, such as they are, are of omission rather than commission. In any case, Mitch lied to himself far more than Blanche lied to him. He told himself that Blanche was the woman of his dreams, when it should've been perfectly obvious that she was no such thing.

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William Delaney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Blanche does not intentionally deceive Mitch in everything she says and does. In some respects she is being at least as sincere with him as she is with herself. She truly believes in gentility, politeness, refinement, kindness, cultivated tastes and manners, all the amenities that go with the genteel lifestyle of the Old South. She mainly deceives Mitch in the matter of her age. She never allows him to see her in the full light. She refuses to go out with him until after sunset. She deliberately lies to him when she tells him that Stella is her older sister, when Stella is actually five years younger.

Yes, Stella is my precious little sister. I call her little in spite of the fact that she's somewhat older than I. Just slightly. Less than a year.

She also deceives him about her old-fashioned virtue, desperately holding out for marriage. In Scene Nine, Mitch shows that he has been enlightened about her real age and her unsavory past, but the following quotes are significant:

MITCH:

You lied to me, Blanche.

BLANCHE:

Don't say I lied to you.

MITCH:

Lies, lies, inside and out, all lies.

BLANCHE:

Never inside, I didn't lie in my heart . . .

This is true of Blanche's complex character. She can be both realistic and romantic, chaste and corrupt, naive and worldly wise, strong and weak. She is far too complicated for Mitch to ever understand.

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