The first impression of a character is very important, it has to have a strong impact on the reader. Williams introduces us to Stanley first and then to Blanche. We only see Stanley briefly but it is enough to form our traditional, prejudge mental opinion of him. We see he is passionate about sport and likes to gamble. More importantly Williams makes us aware of the discreet sexual innuendo. ‘… a red-stained package’ This shows Stanley is a very sexual person. We then see Stanley bellowing to his wife.
‘Hey, there! Stella, Baby! This either means he does not know how to treat women or simply has no respect for them. During out introduction to Stanley, Williams informs us through the stage directions that Stanley and Stella have very different backgrounds. The little we know about Stella can still tell us a lot. She is an adaptable, open-minded person who can feel comfortable in various situations. Blanche is the complete opposite and would almost certainly find it extremely difficult to adapt to Stanley and his standard of living, ultimately his class.
Tension between Stanley and Blanche is revealing itself even before the two have met. After Williams leaves a brief yet strong impression of Stanley on the reader he then leads us into the introduction of Blanche. The stage directions Williams uses, describe her appearance as ‘Upper Class’ or viewed by Blanche as ‘Upper Class’. ‘… daintily dressed in a white suit… fluffy bodice, necklace… earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat… ‘ Maybe as the reader we are being a little presumptuous but again we sense the tension building due to this ‘clash of classes’.
When discussing classes we tend to be stereotypical and narrow-minded and this occasion is no exception as we find ourselves making hasty assumptions as to what type of person Blanche is-snobbish, haughty. As the reader we do want to be prejudgmental so we push these thoughts to back of our minds and prepare to create fresh, judged opinions. Blanche however forces us to rediscover our forgotten opinions as she lives up to our hasty formed expectations. She is rude, tactless and a very uncomfortable in new surroundings.
‘Blanche sits in a chair very stiffly… shoulders hunched… legs pressed close together… ands tightly clutching her purse. ‘ It is clear that Blanche is disgusted by Stanley’s environment but unfortunately she will also be as disgusted if not more by the lifestyle he leads. The ongoing tension is hinting towards an inevitable confrontation between Blanche and Stanley. After Williams introduces us to Blanche and Stanley separately he introduces them to each other. As the reader we feel tense, anxious and a little curious as to what will happen. Blanche has pre-informed of Stanley’s ‘vital statistics’ by Stella. The most important thing Stella was to tell Blanche was that Stanley was Polish.
Stella obviously knows her sister well and realises there will be an unwanted reaction to this from Blanche. ‘Polacks? ‘ Stella has learnt to understand Blanche over time but Stanley has not. The acquainting of Blanche and Stanley is revealing. Blanche is wearing a red satin robe when she’s introduced to Stanley and she immediately begins flirting with him. ‘Excuse me while I slip on my pretty new dress. ‘ Our expectations for this occasion were destroyed. We assumed she would make her ‘superiority’ over Stanley known. She acts in an odd manner. Stanley does what we expect him to.
As we have established Stanley is very aware of his sexuality but also has little respect for women. ‘He sizes up women with a glance, with sexual classifications’ He predictably, without any hesitation ‘sizes-up’ Blanche. ‘He crosses through the drapes with a smouldering look’ The tension is so immense even at this early stage in the play. We fear for Blanche however, she is nai?? ve about men like Stanley and continuously endeavours to entice him. ‘She sprays herself with her atomizer: then playfully sprays him with it. He seizes the atomizer and slams it down on the dresser. ‘ It is not just Stanley who receives such special treatment.
It seems mostly all of the male characters in the play have been subjected to Blanche’s flirtatious nature. ‘She looks after him with certain interest’ This shows what an addictive person she can be. Her deceitfulness is evident in every scene and it seems as though Blanche is living in a fantasy world that she has developed over time. Stanley may not be intelligent or educated like Blanche but he is bright. Blanche predictably underestimates Stanley. She thinks that because he is of a lower class he must be stupid but he is far from it. He is rightfully cautious and suspicious of Blanche from the beginning. ‘Don’t play so dumb.
You know what! -Where’s the papers? ‘ Blanche’s deceitful nature and Stanley’s distrust towards Blanche add the inevitability of a final confrontation. On numerous occasions throughout the play Blanche insults Stanley to his face but mostly and more importantly, behind his back. ‘He acts like an animal’ On this occasion Stanley hears Blanche’s insults. ‘Stanley hesitates licking his lips’ Stanley has a very short temper and as the play progresses it gets shorter and shorter. We first see signs of his temper when he tosses the white radio out of the window ‘with a shouted oath’. He then hit Stella as Blanche provoked him.
Stella took the punishment for Blanche’s crime. ‘Stanley charges after Stella’ Blanche’s blatant insults mixed with Stanley’s temperament are a very bad cocktail. This all again adds to the inevitability of an ultimate conflict erupting. There is evidence to become almost certain of this happening towards the end of the play. Stanley’s suspicions as to Blanche’s past were justified as we discover she is exactly how she describes herself to be. ‘Things I already suspected. But now I got proof from the most reliable sources. ‘ Once the truth has been revealed, Stanley feels he needs to get even more revenge on Blanche.
He is clearly very angry that she has deceived all the people close to him but more raged that she has seen Stanley as inferior when it turns out she is far from upper class. ‘That girl called me common! ‘ Williams has built up the tension to prepare us for scene ten where the play reaches the final, inevitable confrontation that explodes disastrously between Stanley and Blanche. At the start of this scene the stage directions reveal Blanche has been drinking. She is acting out a ‘fantasy date’ showing she is evidently unstable. When Stanley enters he too has had a few drinks. Alcohol has often gone hand in hand with danger during the play.
This all increases the tense atmosphere evident in the scene. Stanley then makes it clear to Blanche that they will be alone together. ‘Just me and you, Blanche. ‘ We can tell from Stanley’s character that this line was not spoken in a light-hearted manner but in a rather sinister way, hinting that something may happen when they are alone. Stanley enjoys playing games with Blanche, as he knows he is successful in doing so. Even though the charade that is her life is close to over, Blanche still, to our astonishment, continues to pointlessly lie, desperately trying to cling on to her ‘fantasy life’ Mr Shep Huntleigh.
I wore his ATO pin… just now-a wire-inviting me on a cruise of the Caribbean’ This deceit will just aggravate Stanley even more and as a result of this he cannot hold back his outrage. ‘As a matter of a fact there is no wire at all! ‘ For first time ever in the play, Blanche is speechless, then only words she manages to utter are ‘oh, oh’. He extremely enjoys reclaiming his pride and dignity stolen away by Blanche’s constant insults. ‘Queen of the Nile! Sitting on your throne and swilling down my liquor! ‘ Revealing Blanche’s past is not what is important to Stanley any more revenge is.
Stanley has an amazing yet intimidating physical presence and makes a point off making Blanche aware of it. ‘Don’t come on here! ‘ We feel sympathy and fear for Blanche as Stanley follows her into the bedroom. But it is too late for Blanche, Stanley wants his settle the scores. ‘Come to think of it-maybe you wouldn’t be bad to interfere with… ‘ Rape is a cruel and malicious act that no person deserves but it seems as though Blanche ahs lead herself to her own destruction through her feeling of superiority over Stanley, constant insults, flirtatiousness and addiction to deceit.
This situation could be non-existent had Blanche never called Stanley a Polack right at the beginning of the play. If only she had been accepting of those different from her. Unfortunately Stanley and Blanche have had this date from the beginning, from the moment they met to the moment he rapes her. I believe it as all been like a first date, the nervous introduction, flirting, finding out about each other, the sexual tension. Stanley has treated it like a date from the beginning. Regrettably for Blanche a date with Stanley will always end with sex.