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Blanche Du Bois is a very overcritical, obnoxious, flirtatious, and deceiving woman from Laurel, Mississippi.
How does the playwright Tennessee Williams use Blanche's actions, description, or words to make a strong statement about gender in our society?
I haven't washed or even powdered my face and---here you are! (Scene 2, Page 80)
My clothes are stickin' to me. Do you mind if I make myself comfortable? (Scene 2, Page 80)
Blanche Du Bois just got to New Orleans and she is meeting Stanley, her sister's husband, for the first time. She is flirting with Stanley even though her sister is in the room right next to them. Blanche has questionable morals. Williams uses Blanche's flirtation to demonstrate that women during his time were promiscuous and disreputable.
Now, honey. Now, love. (Scene 11, Page 142)
What have I done to my sister? Oh, God, what have I done to my sister? (Scene 11, Page 141)
Jacket, Doctor? (Scene 11, Page 141)
At the end of the play, Stanley and Stella have arranged for Blanche to be sent to an asylum. Stella thinks that Blanche is not right in the head and she thinks that she lied about Stanley raping her, even though she didn't. Stanley is happy to sign Blanche away to a mental institution and never think of her again. This happened to women very often in the 1940's; any man in the family could check a woman into an asylum and leave them there until they died. This shows that women are often taken advantage of and mistreated by men.
Throughout the play, Blanche is portrayed as a promiscuous woman. She flirts with Stanley, Mitch, and a 16 year old paper boy. We also find out that she is an infamous prostitute in Laurel. Because of Blanche's lies and actions, her credibility has diminished. When Blanche finally decides to tell the truth, no one believes her when she says Stanley raped her. Since no one believed her or could put up with her nonsense, they sent her to an asylum where she would receive shock therapy and other harsh treatments. Blanche Du Bois demonstrates that once a woman is perceived as a tramp, she is no longer trustworthy, but if a man is licentious, no one cares. This is like life in that women are judged too harshly and taken advantage of far too often.
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