Tuesday, December 11, 2007

“You need somebody and I need somebody too. Could it be – you and me, Blanche?”

Write an evaluation of scene 6, exploring the ways Tennessee Williams presents and uses the relationship between Blanche and Mitch.

When Blanche and Mitch first meet, she notes to her sister that he seems “superior to the others.” Indeed, most likely because of living with his dying mother, Mitch, whose place on the “spare parts” department reflects his position in life well, is more sensitive than Stanley and his poker-playing friends. When it is revealed that his mother wants to see him married before she passes away, it seems that Blanche, who is single and in need of sanctuary, may make a good match for him. Their relationship is looked upon more closely in Scene 6, the only scene in the play which consists of just them, alone together.

From the beginning of Scene 6, it is apparent that neither Mitch, who is “stolid but depressed” nor Blanche, who feels “the utter exhaustion which only a neurasthenic can know” enjoyed their date. The “exhaustion” felt by Blanche, because she “did try” shows that their relationship is one which requires a lot of “work” and is not natural to either of them. The emphasis on the “hard work” of this relationship is accentuated when we see that neither of them had fun, despite, paradoxically, having been at a funfair. Also, the awkwardness of their pairing is present in the stage directions, “laughs uneasily” as well as dialogue which is full of pauses uncomfortable gaps, “Well…” This suggests that Blanche and Mitch are not right for each other.

One of the reasons their relationship comes across as so tepid is because of the obvious missing ingredient: passion. The passion which is so present in Stanley and Stella’s relationship is missing here, as Mitch even asks Blanche for her permission to kiss her, which emphases the awkwardness and “unease” felt between the two characters. Also, where Stella and Stanley are natural around each other, the interaction between Blanche and Mitch is “hard work.” There are also some basic differences between Mitch and Blanche. Where Blanche is a cultured woman (this is accentuated when she speaks French which he doesn’t understand) Mitch lacks formal manners and culture, especially in his choice in hobby – muscle building, which Blanche even mocks, “Samson!”, again suggesting that the pair are incompatible.

Mitch is ill at ease throughout the scene, asking questions that are unintentionally funny, “What’s your weight?” suggesting that he has not had much experience with women. This contrasts with Blanche’s many and varied history with men. She has great desire, as shown in just the previous scene where she had blatantly tried to seduce a young boy, yet here continues with her façade of having “old fashioned ideals”. Only when she introduces fantasy into her relationship with Mitch, “Je suis la Dame de Camillias!” can she find him acceptable. When she does this, she is also mocking him, as she considers herself the superior. This insincerity contrasts with that of Mitch, who takes everything seriously, even his weight, “I work out there with weights and I swim”, and gets frustrated at her, which is shown in his “heavy” breathing and speech. This echoes their first meeting in Scene 3, when Blanche had been insincere and playful, and Mitch hung on to her every word.

It also poses the question of whether Blanche can sustain the fantasy, especially when she herself finds it so hard to believe, as shown when she “rolls her eyes”, as she is aware of manipulating him, and that she is lying to herself as well. Blanche drinks in this scene as well, because in doing so her inhibitions are released and emotions are stronger. She is also perhaps drinking to “drown her sorrows” at having Mitch for company. This does not set up a very romantic atmosphere.

However, when the revelation of Blanche’s failed marriage comes, it is clear that both these characters have more in common, “I loved someone too, and the person I loved I lost.” When Blanche tells Mitch of her experience, she speaks with more of her emotions, and is “performing” less, showing that this event did have a huge impact on her. Mitch, who listens intently, finally says “You need somebody, and I need somebody too.” This shows that were they to get married, it would be one of needs rather than out of passion.

Blanche’s sob of “Sometimes – there’s a God – so quickly!” is perhaps her most genuine comment in the scene. She is clearly in distress thinking about her past, and Mitch’s attempts to sooth her are in much more relaxed, natural movements, “He kisses her forehead and her eyes and finally her lips” in contrast to before, “he fumblingly embraces her”, showing that he is capable of intimate acts. What Tennessee Williams could be suggesting is that, despite their many differences, Mitch could be redemption for Blanche and there is the possibility that they’d make a good couple.

One of the main uses for this scene for Williams is character development. Mitch is presented as the forth protagonist. He is funny, but embarrassingly so – “My weight is not a very interesting topic to talk about. What’s yours?” and does not appear a very sexually enticing object, “My shirt is sticking to me.” Where in previous scenes it has been shown that he doesn’t fit in with the other men, “You are all married. I’ll be alone” he doesn’t seem to fit in with women either here, from his uncomfortable topics of conversation to his clumsy actions. Nonetheless, he is a good, kind character, and it would seem that Williams writes for the audience to sympathise and like him. At the same time, however, he is not entirely on Blanche’s side and against Stanley. “We was together in two-forty-first” shows that they have history, and a strong bond. When he and Blanche talk about Stanley’s rudeness to her, he speaks diplomatically, as he has vested interest to protect his friend. This foreshadows the final scene, where he was choose Stanley over Blanche.

Scene 6 also highlights some of the key themes of the play. One of them is of sexual attraction, which is highlighted in this scene because it is so plainly missing. There is no sexual spark between Mitch and Blanche, and their relationship stands out against Stella and Stanley’s, which is built solely on sexual attraction. When Mitch does make advances, Blanche rejects them, “I said unhand me, sir.” This could be seen as a good thing as the lack of sexual attraction makes way for a deeper, more spiritual love, or, more likely, a marriage of strong needs. Mitch seems genuinely to like Blanche, and Blanche needs a marriage and a place to live. However, it can also be seen as bad, as we have seen from past scenes that Blanche is a highly desirous character, with a passion that would be considered wrong for a woman in her society, and this passion cannot be left unfulfilled. However, it is suggested by Williams throughout the play that sex/desire will lead to Blanche’s downfall. This is highlighted when we consider that Blanche says she rode a streetcar named Desire to her destination.

Another theme presented in this scene is that of fantasy’s inability to overcome reality. Blanche obviously despises her current lifestyle, "I don't want realism. I want - magic!" so creates a fantasy world, “We are going to pretend we are sitting in a little Artist’s café!” to make her world more acceptable. Lying to herself and to others allows her to make life appear as it should be rather than as it is. However, whilst this manages to fool Mitch, it cannot fool Stanley, a pragmatist, who seeks to break Blanche’s fancies. Nonetheless, Williams suggests that fantasy is an important and useful tool because at the end of the play, Blanche’s retreat into her own private fantasies enables her to partially shield herself from the harshness of reality.

This scene also examines what drives relationships. Whilst passion is the key factor for Stanley and Stella, Mitch is seeing Blanche for the companionship. He had previous expressed fears of being “lonely.” Blanche is also seeking companionship, but she also sees marriage to Mitch as a way of escaping destitution. Previous men’s exploitation of her sexuality has left her with a poor reputation, and now she just has a desire for “rest.” She is likely to find this with Mitch.

Another way in which Williams uses this play is to present Blanche DuBois as a tragic character. Her past is a sad one and has obviously shaped her, “We are a product of our past”. The audience feel sympathy for her having suffered such a loss so young, and this alleviates some of the annoyances we felt at Blanche for her actions and comments in previous scenes. Her delivery of the event also reveals some things about Blanche’s fear of the “light.” Light imagery is rife, from the “blinding light” at which she encountered love, to the sad admittance that “there’s never been any light stronger than this kitchen candle.” This shows that through all of Blanche’s inconsequential sexual affairs with other men, she has experienced only dim light. Bright light, therefore, represents Blanche’s youthful sexual innocence, while poor light represents her sexual maturity and disillusionment. She was “deluded”, and now she creates “illusions.” Thought Williams is not entirely justifying Blanche’s lies, here, he shows her reason for them, and suggests that she might still have some innocence in her, “I never lied in my heart.”

Just as the polka plays, Blanche talks about the Varsouviana, a musical piece that reminds her of her dead husband. This is significant because in upcoming scenes the piece will be played, but Blanche will be the only one who can hear it, perhaps suggesting that she is imagining her upcoming death or downfall. The playing of the polka in the background is symbolic, as it signals that Blanche is remembering her greatest regret and escaping into her fantasy world. Blanche’s husband’s suicide was the critical moment in her life, the moment she lost her innocence.

By telling the story of Blanche’s sad past, Williams is also setting up further tragedy for Blanche and Mitch in the future. The development of their relationship will add tension in future scenes, as it has been made clear from the poker game in Act 3 that Stanley disapproved of Blanche and Mitch getting together. The closeness which they have at the end of this scene will no doubt anger Stanley further as he will take it as a challenge to his authority and will want to avenge Blanche. Perhaps he will even use Mitch to avenge Blanche.

By the end of Scene 6, a ray of hope is created for the chance of Blanche and Mitch getting together, and successfully. Blanche reduces her “act” because she has “won” Mitch over and has to pretend less. He obviously means a lot to her, as she describes him as a gift from God, and if they do not love each other yet, there is the possibility of love in their relationship. Mitch has a capacity for loving, and Blanche needs to be loved. However, the relationship between these two is not the key focus of the play, and the audience will be quickly reminded of this in the next 7. Stanley, who, like Blanche, follows his desires, is the focus of the play, and he is not going to like this relationship and will do all that is in his power to break it apart, leading to Mitch’s condemnation, “You’re not clean enough for my mother,” and Blanche’s downfall.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Transition Economies

Distinguish between a centrally planned and market economy.

In a centrally planned economy, the state allocates resources through a planning mechanism, whereas in a market economy, they are allocated through the market mechanism - the market determines what is to be produced and for whom production is to take place. In a centrally planned economy, the consumers, workers and government are all assumed to be selfless, whereas in a market economy people are driven to work for profit, and self-interest.


Examine the motives of centrally planned economies to move towards market based economies.

People in Eastern Europe were learning of the high living standards the Americans and those in Western Europe, which was leading to unrest. They were unhappy about the poor quality of the goods and services on offer to them. Shortages and rationing also meant that people wasted much of their time queuing.
The shortages and poor quality arose largely due to problems of planning and co-ordination. Information proved difficult and expensive to obtain and it often quickly out of date. The large quantity of information and its inadequacies posed serious problems for the complex process of input-output analysis.
The absence of the profit motive meant that inefficient firms were still running and efficient firms did not always expand. Additionally, it was also usually not possible for new, non-government, firms to set up expanding customer demand. Producers of state-run industries, unable to benefit

With reference to Poland, explain the problems involved in an economic transition.
State rationing gave way to free markets and there was a huge increase in prices, and inflationary situation made worse by the government printing money to subsidise the unprofitable businesses that could not compete with western firms. Savings were wiped out, creating poverty and inequality. Failing businesses caused output to collapse and unemployment continues to rise. The Polish currency, the zloty, was devalued in order to restore competitiveness of exports, but at the same time, it made imports very expensive, especially
A lack of understanding and experience of how market forces actually work meant that former state managers had little idea of how to run a private sector company, competing against others and attempting to make profits.
Also, the absence of a legal framework made it difficult to enforce property rights, the valuation and disposal of assets or the liquidisation of unprofitable firms.
Hyperinflation occurred as governments printed money to pay for remaining state activities and at the same time for remaining state activities and at the same time removed price controls from the market.


Despite the attractions of a market economy, why is it likely that some government intervention will remain even when economic transition is completed?

Some government intervention is likely to remain even when transition is completed, because, if not, then it will be those with the highest purchasing power who have the most influence on what is produced and some goods and services wanted by the poor will be under-produced. With no government intervention at all, corruption and the flouting of businesses will occur.

Emma said...

Lol. That is so 2006, AS Economics. We're on A2 now. Get with the times!

Show yourself!

Anonymous said...

Great essay.

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