A Streetcar Named Desire: Scene Notes – Scene 2
starts with Stella telling
explains that Blanche has lost Belle Reve and asks
Tension is created between Stanley
· Stanley and Blanche meet for the first time; Blanche is very flirtatious towards him (for example by asking him to button up her dress) while he is blunt towards her, foreshadowing that tensions will continue to rise between these two characters.
Once again Stella is seen as the
· Additionally, the audience and Blanche find out that Stella is pregnant, perhaps the explanation as to why Blanche made the previous comment about her weight gain in Scene 1. (However, it does seem that Blanche’s comment was still meant to be a superficial comment on Stella’s looks intended to make Blanche feel better about her own figure)
returns from the drugstore, and some of the men arrive for their poker game.
Exhilarated by the news of Stella’s pregnancy and by her own handling of the
Motifs & Connotations:
Inside and outside
Instead of being a refuge from the harsh outer world, the confines of the house seem restrictive and just as tense as the outside world, or even more so, for the glimpses that have been seen of the outside (Scene 1) are relatively positive, as there is a sense of community. This is in contrast to the inside, where the relationships are strained and there is a sense of false sincerity and materialism, especially with Blanche. For instance, “my pretty new dress” (135) indicates how Blanche is obsessed with appearances, and also the validation and approval of others. This materialism and false pretenses does not seem to be present within the outside world and hence, although Blanche appears to be seeking a haven from the outside, for her the situation inside seems even worse.
There is an association with the outside with a wild and unknown environment and this leads to the idea of the need to depend upon another. For example, “Which way do we – go now- Stella?” (141.) The gaps within the speech helps to emphasize the uncertainty of the situation, already present by the question mark; additionally, the quotation highlights Blanche’s dependency on Stella for guidance and support. Furthermore, Blanche believes that “The blind are – leading the blind!” (142), revealing the uncertainty that she feels, stepping into the real world, out of her euphemistic ideals. The dash perhaps emphasizes Blanche’s hesitation and reluctance to admit that she is uncertain of her surroundings.
Bathing as a form of purification
The action of bathing and cleansing oneself can be seen during Scene Two. In one instance, Blanche is “soaking in a hot tub to quiet her nerves.” (131) This could be seen as Blanche once again escaping reality; her cleansing is a form of escapism from the harshness of reality, another motif present within this scene. This once again shows how Blanche is unable to deal with life and is related to her drinking as both are a form of escape from, for her, the grim reality of everyday life. In this sense, Blanche can be seen as a weak character who is dependent upon others in order to function.
Additionally, Blanche views bathing as a renewal of herself, as if to literally wash off the shock of Stella’s husband and house. She seems to regard this ritual is a necessity, as she has been rejuvenated and “feeling like a brand-new human being!” (135) Furthermore, the idea of scenting oneself could be interpreted as trying to hide a person’s true nature; Blanche scents herself to distract herself and possibly others from reality: she “playfully” sprays Stanley, possibly as an attempt to distract him from the legal documents.
In scene two, we see several uses of paper, in particular
legal papers. Firstly, they serve as proof. For example, on page 132,
However, for Blanche papers represent her past, as the
papers proved the ownership of the house and possibly when she “endows”
In this scene clothes reveal much about the protagonist
Blanche. One of her first actions in the scene is putting on her dress, at
which point she asks
Themes & Connotations:
Masculine males vs. delicate, dependent females
several conflicts within this scene, one of them being masculine males vs.
delicate, dependent females.
Conflict between sisters
underlying tensions can be seen between Stella and Blanche; it seems as if
Blanche is almost proud when she confesses that, “Yes-I was flirting with your
husband, Stella!” (141) The reason for her pride could be interpreted as the
ability to tease men, something Blanche perceives as crucial in order to remain
youthful. Furthermore, by flirting with
Declining upper class vs. burgeoning working class
Kowalskis and the Dubois have different notions” (135) summarizes the
difference between the lower class, emphasized by the immigrant surname of
Kowalski in contrast to the French name Dubois which has connotations of power,
wealth and aristocracy. However, the declining upper class is emphasized by the
loss of Belle Reve. Furthermore, the idea that Stella adopted
Additionally, “He’s just not the sort that goes for jasmine perfume!” (141) shows the audience that Stanley and Blanche (and Stella’s) status is too different for him to truly appreciate the finer parts of life, or the elegance and class of perfume, further highlighting the conflict between classes.
Loneliness and the longing for love
The image of the love letters emphasizes Blanche’s longing for love, as well as the need to cling onto the past with her letters, “yellowing with antiquity.” (139) Her need to stay in the past may be due to the fact that she was loved, youthful and beautiful, which is supposedly better than she is now.
Pleasant dreams vs. ugly reality
There are several instances where Blanche is seen as escaping reality and imagining better things. She is “[Singing in the bathroom]” (132) whilst cleansing herself, rubbing off the initial negative impressions of Stella’s house. The motifs are associated with Blanche’s attempt to fabricate an alternate reality: she uses clothes to change her outer appearance, and to make herself feel better about herself. In doing so, she disregards the truth and makes herself believe that she still looks good despite the fact that she has aged. Through the need of constant re-affirmation of her beauty, we feel sympathy for Blanche, as she desperately tries to hold on to something which is slipping through her fingers. Additionally, her hoarding of papers, especially the poems from her husband, show that she is unable to let go of the past.
Blanche’s haughty disdain of life in Elysian Fields may alienate some members of the audience. However, Blanche’s simple, childlike glee while bathing and the fact that all she wants is a pleasant illusion suggests that Williams intends us to sympathies with more than judge her.
In this way Blanche’s is the binary opposite of
Stanley who is practical and brutishly revels in the simple, vibrant life that
we see surround him in
she is seen as the submissive, meek character. She obeys
In this scene, we see
However, Stanley does not appear to be the victor this time and his repetition of the phrase “I got an acquaintance who deals in this sort of merchandise” (134) portrays him not as a man who has many contacts and resources but instead it serves to ridicule him as he seems to have been outmaneuvered by Blanche and has nothing else to say.
Blanche’s character continues to be portrayed as materialistic and obsessed with the outward appearance. However, she elicits some compassion by mentioning the love letters, the loss of Belle Reve and, perhaps most poignantly, her admission that her jewelry and furs are all fake, and as such the audience may empathise with her for a moment although this may be undermined by her hysterical outburst when Stanley touches her love letters and her claim that she will now have to “burn them!” (139) which is an indication that she once again views herself better than her current surroundings.
scene, Blanche uses the process of bathing as a way to distract herself from
reality in much the same way as her alcohol consumption in the previous Scene.
As such, although there is a sense in which she seems to get the upper hand of
Imagery & Setting:
is set mostly within
The outside world is equally threatening for Blanche (although the audience may see little more than a lively slum in New Orleans) but there is a heightened sense of confusion and danger presented with the outside world, as there is uncertainty and the feeling that the “blind are leading the blind!”
Relation of Part to Whole:
follows on from the introduction of the three main characters, and further
develops the relationships between Stanley, Stella and Blanche. Tension is
heightened by the action on stage, especially when
This scene serves to set the foundation of the conflict
between Blanche and Stanley. We also see, for the first time, how aggressive