Characterisation: Blanche

Hawick High School
A Streetcar named
Desire by Tennessee
A Streetcar named Desire
Scene Two
This scene is important as in this
scene the groundwork is laid for the
conflicts which follow:Stanley’s jealousy and suspicion
 Blanche’s ignorance of the effect her
behaviour has on people
Both the motive and means for Blanche’s
destruction are now becoming clear as
Williams prepares the ground for the
inevitable calamity
Characterisation Blanche
The audience’s compassion for
Blanche increases as Williams reveals
just how destitute she is by showing
that all her belongings in the world
amount to a trunk full of cheap
dresses, fake furs and costume
Characterisation: Blanche
Blanche takes the first of many baths in this
scene. She says that steaming hot baths
are necessary to calm her nerves. Yet,
Blanche’s constant need to wash her body
symbolises her need for emotional, spiritual
and mental cleansing.
On one level this habit is extremely irritating
to the other inhabitants of the apartment
and will significantly increase the tension.
On another level, her bathing foreshadows
the eventual revelation of her sordid past.
She desires to rid herself of her social
blemishes and start over again after leaving
Characterisation: Blanche
The second part of the scene begins
with Blanche making an appearance in
her red bath robe. Her flirting manner
arouses Stanley’s suspicions as he
senses that her provocative behaviour
is more fitting for a prostitute than a
schoolteacher, “If I didn’t know that
you were my wife’s sister I’d get ideas
about you!”
Characterisation - Stanley
Characterisation: Stanley
In this scene Stanley’s antagonism to
Blanche grows as do his suspicions
about her
Stanley’s hostility is rooted in his sharp
awareness of the class differences
between himself and Blanche (and by
implication Stella) and his instinctive
reaction is to pull her down to his level
Characterisation: Stanley
This class antagonism is intensified by
Stanley’s suspicions that Blanche has
cheated both he and Stella
He is unaware that Blanche’s costume
jewellery is fake and his resentment
grows when Stella mocks him
Characterisation: Stanley
Stanley’s repeated references to the
Napoleonic Code show that he is ignorant of
legal technicalities because Belle Reve being
in Mississippi would not fall under New
Orleans jurisdiction
However, these repeated references
highlight the fact that his conflict with
Blanche is also a gender showdown. Stanley
feels that as a man whatever Stella has
belongs to him. He also hates Blanche as a
woman and as a person with a far more
prestigious family name. He therefore
suspects that her business dealings have
been dishonest
Blanche posturing in her red robe is
symbolic of the scarlet woman of the
Bible (Revelation 17)
Blanche’s reference to “The blind are
leading the blind” is symbolic of
Matthew 15:14 which reads “And if the
blind shall lead the blind, both shall
fall into a ditch”. The implication here
is of impending disaster
Blanche’s constant bathing