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How the relationship between Blanche and Stella adds to the dramatic effect in A Streetcar Named Desire
Nonetheless, Stella has a privileged access to her sister’s individual heritage: she can sympathise with Blanche’s previous and as a result tends to make allowances for her, as she encourages Stanley to do, also. This is essential in dramatic terms as Williams encourages his audience to take comfort in this sympathetic connection, which is tested and shattered by the finish of the play. For instance, in response to Stanley’s revelation of Blanche’s somewhat shameful previous, Stella is fast to defend her. Blanche, Stella argues, ‘had an encounter that – killed her illusions’. The violent verb ‘killed’ is suggestive of the devastating ordeal which Blanche went via and for that reason conveys Stella’s understanding of it. Her affection for Blanche is also communicated by way of her reaction to the birthday celebration, to which Mitch does not come. Stella describes how upsetting she identified ‘looking at the girl’s face and the empty chair’. The noun ‘girl’ serves as a reminder of Blanche’s youngster-like innocence, but also suggests a motherly understanding and connection. However, Williams sets-up area for Stella’s betrayal, when she says to Stanley, ‘there are things about my sister I don’t approve of’. The verb ‘approve’ sounds vague and ambiguous, suggesting an uncertain, almost unstable, good quality to their partnership. The dramatic effect of this is that Stella is presented as a character who does not often comprehend or sympathise with Blanche. This, if the ending of this play can be noticed as tragic, renders Stella’s choice to side with Stanley over Blanche relating to the rape much more predictable and, in a sense, much more shocking for the audience.
Williams presents Stella as a platform on which the conflict in between Blanche and Stanley takes place. This is effective drastically because Stella appears not only as a character in the narrative of the play, but also as a symbol of tension and fighting: As Blanche and Stanley’s battleground of sorts, Stella becomes the particular person on whom they each rely and depend. For instance, Stanley’s expression in Scene 1, ‘not in my territory’, suggests that Stella is currently in his possession, as though she had been the prize of the competitive energy-struggle amongst him and Blanche. This assertion on Stanley’s component poses an initial threat to the connection among Stella and Blanche, since Stanley phrases it in such a way that intimidates Blanche. He forces her to feel that her sister is, in truth, not so much her sister as Stanley’s wife, to the whole arrangement of which Blanche is very unaccustomed, thus highlighting her isolation. Later on, Williams shifts the balance of energy: in Scene 3, the stage path ‘Blanche guides her’ suggests that Blanche is now winning the figurative competition against Stanley. The verb ‘guides’ connotes kindness and sisterly help the visual image on-stage, presumably with Blanche wrapping her arms about Stella, would depict closeness and human intimacy, which contrasts with the image of the a lot more bestial nature of Stanley’s partnership with Stella, vivified theatrically by their coming with each other ‘with low, animal moans’. The end of the play leaves the outcome of this power-struggle questionable, with Stella holding her ‘sobbingly…crying now that her sister is gone’. She appears to lastly show remorse for her act of betrayal against Blanche, and so the fact that she is crying locations her figuratively back in Blanche’s possession. Nonetheless, the play ends ironically with Stanley embracing her again, murmuring ‘now love’, where ‘love’ sounds possessive and territorial, as well as comforting. This is successful substantially due to the fact any impact which Blanche has had on their connection appears to have disappeared and this modern day society which Blanche has temporarily invaded returns to its dysfunctional state.
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