A Streetcar Named Desire

by: Tennessee Williams

Scene Nine

Whereas Mitch faces his breakup with Blanche with resignation, Blanche becomes desperate and unhinged. She sees marriage as her only means of escaping her demons, so Mitch’s rejection amounts to a sentence of living in her internal world. Once Mitch crushes the make-believe identity Blanche has constructed for herself, Blanche begins to descend into madness. With no audience for her lies, which Blanche admits are necessary when she tells Mitch that she hates reality and prefers “magic,” Blanche begins performing for herself. Yet Blanche’s escapist tendencies no longer manifest her need to live in a world full of pleasant bourgeois ease. Instead of fancy and desire, her new alternate reality reflects regret and death. She is alone, afraid of both the dark and the light; her own mind provides her with a last bastion of escape. Her fantasies control her, not the other way around, but still she shrinks from the horror of reality.

Scene Nine fails to tell us conclusively whether Blanche is responsible for her fate or whether she is a victim of circumstances beyond her control. Mitch claims that it is Blanche’s lying, not her age, that bothers him. Indeed, it is likely Mitch figures out that Blanche is past her prime in Scene Six, when she evades his questions about her age. Given Mitch’s statement, it seems that Blanche’s sexual duplicity and romantic delusions have been the source of her fall. Yet Blanche is also the victim of social circumstances. She was born into a society that required the suppression of desire, and her sense of entitlement, to wealth and social status, elicit the anger of new Americans in an increasingly diverse social landscape. Additionally, Blanche is Stanley’s victim. His investigations of her past and his disclosure of his findings contribute directly to Blanche’s fate.