A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams Summary and Analysis Scene 10

Summary

Later that evening, Blanche is dressed in an old, faded gown and has a rhinestone tiara on her head. She has been drinking heavily. She is talking to herself when Stanley enters. He tells her that the baby won't come before morning, and the doctors sent him home. He wonders about the outfit that Blanche has on. She tells him a fabulous story about how she just received an invitation for a cruise in the Caribbean with a Mr. Shep Huntleigh. Stanley drinks some beer and gets out the silk pajamas which he wore on his wedding night. Blanche thinks how wonderful it will be to have some privacy again and to be among something other than swine. Blanche tells Stanley how Mitch came to her, imploring her forgiveness, but she sent him away because "deliberate cruelty is not forgivable." Then Stanley attacks her, telling her she is lying and that she has no invitation. Blanche flees to the telephone trying to reach Shep Huntleigh, but she can't seem to compose a message. She leaves the phone to get the address. Stanley replaces the phone on the hook. Blanche wants him to stand aside so she can pass, and Stanley thinks that it might not be too bad to interfere with her. As he advances toward her, Blanche breaks a bottle so as "to twist the broken end in your face." He springs on her as she sinks to the floor. He picks up her inert body and carries it into the bedroom.

Analysis

This scene presents the final confrontation between Blanche and Stanley, with Stanley emerging as the undisputed winner.

The beginning of the scene reestablishes the basic difference between Blanche and Stanley. She is once again living in her world of illusion and pretense — a world that Stanley, the realist, cannot understand or tolerate.

Blanche says that she dismissed Mitch, because "deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion." Therefore since Blanche was once deliberately cruel to her young husband, she has since formulated this idea. And of course, she must view herself as being unforgivable for her cruelty to him. This perhaps motivates a lot of her actions, but her statement comes at an ironic point — that is, just before Stanley is about to rape her — an act of extreme cruelty.

In his exhilaration over the forthcoming birth of his child, Stanley is seen as a wild animal on the prey. For the first time, he sees Blanche as someone whom it "wouldn't be bad to — interfere with." This idea plants the idea of seduction in his mind. He also feels that Blanche has been "swilling down my liquor" all summer and that he deserves a little pay. But also, Stanley cannot understand why a woman who has slept with so many men would object to sleeping with him. And, most important, Stanley has always functioned with the idea of enjoying the things that are his — that is, "his car, his radio, everything that is his, that bears his emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer." Blanche has lived in his house, has eaten his food, and has drunk his liquor, but she is definitely not his; in fact, she is openly antagonistic toward him. Thus, his rape is partially to prove again his superiority over her. And since her presence in his house has almost destroyed his marriage, he feels no remorse or regret over Blanche's destruction.

Blanche's horrified aversion to sleeping with Stanley is not based on any moral grounds. Instead, he represents every aspect of life which she is unable to cope with. He appears to her as her destroyer, and his rape of her is actually the cause of her madness. And she was not strong enough to defend herself against this hostile force. Thus it is not the actual rape which causes her madness, but the idea that she was raped by a man who represents everything unacceptable to her. Thus, she is symbolically unable to cope with the brutal realistic world represented by Stanley.

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