In A Streetcar Named Desire, what does Blanche tell Stanley about illusion and truth and what truth does she reveal?

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In scene two, Stanley is under the impression that Blanche has sold Belle Reve and kept the money to herself, which prompts him to approach her and bring up the "Napoleonic code." In typical Blanche fashion, she laughs at his anger and continues to act charming. Whenever Stanley demands that Blanche tell him the truth about the estate, Blanche responds by saying,

"I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman's charm is fifty percent illusion, but when a thing is important I tell the truth" (Williams, 37).

Blanche's comment reveals her understanding that a woman's charm is somewhat based on her ability to appear mysterious and not expose her faults. Her affinity for fantasy is also revealed in her comment to Stanley and corresponds to how she chooses to present herself. As a mentally ill woman suffering from her traumatic life experiences, Blanche relies on delusion and fantasy to protect her emotions. She would prefer to suppress her tainted past and portray the image of an aristocratic Southern Belle instead. In truth, fantasy and mystery are a significant aspect of Blanche's life and keep her from completely losing her mind. As Blanche famously tells Mitch,

"Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth" (Williams, 127).

Stanley proceeds to go through Blanche's suitcase, and it is revealed that her ancestors engaged in "epic fornications," which resulted in their financial ruin until they eventually lost the estate.

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In scene 2, Blanche and Stanley are going back and forth in a conversation that jumps from the lost home of Belle Reve to Stella's pregnancy to the opinion of Stanley that, in some way, Blanche could be "cheating" him and Stella of what is rightfully theirs, in terms of property.

It is here when Blanche tells Stanley that, even though she fibs and embellishes things, she has never cheated anyone. She responds,

I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman's charm is fifty percent illusion, but when a thing is important I tell the truth, and this is the truth: I haven't cheated my sister or you or anyone else as long as I have lived.

Hence, what Blanche is telling Stanley with the specific phrase that "a woman's charm is fifty percent illusion" is that women are, or should be, in some way, enigmatic. She certainly likes to be like that by telling half-truths, playing around with words, embellishing stories, and exaggerating things. Basically, in Blanche's reality, if a woman were to give out everything she has to offer, she would no longer be interesting or keep men curious. A woman's charm, or half of it, has a lot to do with the mystery and curiosity that she inspires with her personality.

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In a manner of explaining herself to Stanley, Blanche says, "A woman's charm is fifty percent illusion."

From the moment she appears in the play, Blanche avoids telling the absolute truth about her situation and why she has come to stay with Stella and Stanley. She exhibits a desperate desire to cling to fantasy and, until the climax of the play, refuses to acknowledge the truth.

Blanche says, "I don't want realism, I want magic!" This perfectly summarizes her inability (or refusal) to admit to Stella or Stanley until the last possible moment that her life has fallen apart and the family estate has been lost. Both financially and personally, Blanche can no longer cope. She clings to lies and insists on a fantasy version of herself and her life.

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In Scene 2, Blanche tells Stanley that "a woman's charm is fifty percent illusion."  She explains that is the reason that she fibs a lot, to create an illusion that is attractive.  However, she does claim that when something is important, a woman - herself included - will always resort to the truth.  In other words, a woman knows between right and wrong.  Blanche explains that she knows she fibs a lot, because “after all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion,” but when something is important she always tells the truth.  The truth that Blanche shares is what she has already told - that the estate was lost, not sold.  She shares with him the papers, and explains the mismanagement of funds and slow decline of the estate.

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