Blanche was the outcome of the old southern economy of the plantation. She took over the standard behavior in the older South culture from her forefathers. However, the cultural possession she held was harmful to her indirectly.
As a puritan, Blanche was not in a position to forgive her husband’s homosexual relationship with others and this had caused his suicide indirectly. Furthermore, Blanche inherits her ancestors’ hypocrisy and obscurity over sex. Their “epic fornications” (A Streetcar Named Desire, p.1834) had given birth to the poverty of the young generation and the missing of Belle Reve. Such being the case, Blanche began to degenerate either due to “panic” leading her to “hunting for protection”.
Because of her evil reputation, Blanche was expelled out of her hometown; she became a sufferer of Puritanism under which she was brought up. Because Blanche was not just a withered remnant of Southern gentility, she was intently avoiding a world which she couldn’t command and had done something terrible to her. She had stuck around during a long time of deaths in her family; every death gradually deprived her of strength and put her prospect into loneliness. Blanche’s marriage with a charming boy who anticipated her for spiritual safety was destined from the very beginning; even though she had been a super girl, she couldn’t have rescued it. In order to survive by instinct, Blanche went to Stella’s home in New Orleans. Her sole aim was tantamount to seek a new life for herself in a different place. Nevertheless, New Orleans was not the right perfect place she was hoping for. The Elysian Field was a discomfiting, awful place featured by noisy environment, filled with the hoarse sounds of the street venders selling tamales; the continuous rhythms of the honky-tonk “blue piano” the human sounds of brawling and of breathless hysterical laughter. Blanche came to the brutal environment which characterizes the law of the jungle.
Kazan wrote in his rehearsal notebooks: “Blanche come into a house where some are going to murder her… (Elia, 1963, p.366)” Williams ever depicted the episodic construction of the play in this way, to keep it “on the tracks in those dangerous, fast curves it made here and there (Tennessee,1978).”
In a sense, Blanche and Stanley were fighting for Stella and Mitch–all of them would want to pull them beyond the reach of the other. However their conflict was more fundamental and was running through the entire plot. Actually, they represented two inconsistent forces-manners and manhood. Blanche was the representative of the Old South’s intelligent romantics and commitment to appearances. Stanley stood for the New South’s cruel chase after prosperity and financial realism. Blanche was once the holder of an estate left behind by her father and a highly educated woman; while men like Stanley, Mitch and Steve were workers and they knew nothing but alcohol, women and fight. Robert Bray regarded this transfer of papers blending with bloodiness as a crucial conceptualization in the development of the institution of society from the old South, loaded with its past, which was stood for by Blanche, to the postwar era and urbanized and industrialized society in which Stanley’s hierarchy had showed influence. In the face of a surprised guest, Stanley asked the affairs in his stride. His utterance amounted to nothing more than joyous vulgarity. His self-righteous exchange with Blanche indicated him to be callous–he scarcely allowed Blanche break in when he evaluated her beauty quickly; as Blanche passes the pokers, she greeted in a polite way: “Please don’t get up.” Stanley broke her up: “Nobody’s going to get up, so don’t be worried” (A Streetcar Named Desire, p.1836); the fact that Stanley coarsely took all of Blanche’s possessions out of her luggage demonstrates that his trampling on the degenerating old South culture which Blanche was standing for.
At the poker’s night, Blanche turned on the radio and started dancing with Mitch. Stanley stood up, rushing to the radio, and cast it out of the window.
Stella shouted at Stanley and was hit by him; Stanley also defied Blanche’s in this way:
You come here and sprinkle the place with powder and spray and cover the light bulb with the paper lantern, and to and behold the place has turned into Egypt and you are the queen of the Nile! Sitting on your throne and swilling down my liquor! (A Streetcar Named Desire, p.1872)
The criminal assault in Scene Ten was a symbol of the ultimate extermination of the old South’s elegant illusion world by the brutal but vivacious present. Blanche’s cultural benefit was repulsed in each place and she was in a gloomy statue which was unrecognized by others. She had no proper place to live and no outlet to abreact her sufferings; she could wait for nothing, but the ultimate tragedy in the end. Blanche’ tragedy was either the outcome of the vicious system–the feudal regime of the old South, and she was also the sufferer of the other system: the capitalism of the regenerated unification. She was living in an age in which the conventional moral force was mighty. The moral standards of pilgrims indicated autarchy in every respect of life, which had a profound influence on Blanche’s later life.
Blanche remains prisoner to the traditional notions about the women of the old cavalier South: economic dependence was the order of the day, and so women like Blanche were ill-equipped to survive in a changing world by any means except physical attractiveness. Blanche attempts to use her fading good looks to win the hand of a charming suitor. …
Blanche must keep a proper balance, being ‘gay’ enough to entertain and entice the gentlemen caller without being so sexually forward as to turn him away. Affecting charm and manners, she pathetically tries to keep alive a way of life that has been lost. (Thomas, 1990, p.40)
With the declination of the manorial economy, she still attempted to adapt to the unfamiliar but ruthless society by her patrician manner. People did not show any sympathy to Blanche’s experiences; instead, they considered her as another kind of person of a different culture. She needed the concern from others, but finally running into loneliness; she wanted affection from gentlemen, but only being conceived by the actuality. She entrusted wishes to her fascination and manners to make her dreams are achieved. Nevertheless, the society did not give her opportunities, but only transforming her, controlling her, and ultimately leading to her destruction. Kazan once said: “The crude forces of violence, insensibility and vulgarity crushed the representative of light and culture.”(Thomas, 1969, p.176).