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accounts a man’s selling of his soul for the gift of forever being young, Blanche will do anything in her power, because her youth is evanescent, to give the illusion of possessing it in abundance through crafty, convoluted ways of manipulating light and darkness. For example, as Mitch spends time with Blanche throughout the course of the play, he begins to recognize she only spends time with him during the night and in scenarios where “it’s always some place that’s not lighted much” (Williams 144). Blanche favors the darkness as a crutch to conceal her age, but given her approach to the use of bathing, perfume, and makeup, her affinity for darkness mirrors her life of secrecy. While Blanche remains preoccupied with her negative attitude towards aging, Mitch, on the contrary, explains, “I don’t mind you being older than what I thought. But all the rest of it–Christ! ...Oh, I knew you weren’t sixteen any more. But I was a fool enough to believe you was straight” (145). In this moment, Blanche realizes that youth, in Mitch’s eyes, is less of a priority in his desire to begin a serious relationship with her than is her integrity that she seems to boast of so confidently, but so falsely. Because of his newly acquired knowledge of her scandalous past at the Tarantula Arms, he finds Blanche “not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother” (150). Even if Blanche were to regain her youth, her lack of morals with regard to chastity and subsequent succession of boldfaced lies on the topic would discourage any man of this period who would otherwise pursue her for marriage. Trust and honesty, Blanche begins to learn, are vital in any relationship, whether it is between family members, close friends, or significant others. Her cleansing rituals have not managed to preserve her innocence and youth. Though Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire is delusional and devotes her life and the choices she makes to a self-constructed fantasy, her character is consistent with and adherent to the tenets of Modernism, though in unexpected ways. Many works during this time period would focus on a “loss of the real” (Dolfsma 352) and a perspective of how “the world outside is contrasted with the representation that the individual has of it in his own mind” (353). During her most honest moment of the play in Scene Nine, however, Blanche confesses, “I don’t want realism. I want magic! Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it” (Williams 145). Despite her desire to achieve the modern feminine ideal, Blanche proves to be maladjusted for the modern world. While Stella was able to see a future outside of Belle Reve and as a consequence is able to live a meaningful life with an intrepid, masculine, and dedicated, if brutal, husband, Blanche, because of her inability to recognize the decline of her family’s prominence in Mississippi and the finality of her husband’s death, finds it continually challenging to adapt to the rapidly changing world she finds herself in. With her upper class background and demeanor juxtaposed with her uncanny ability to survive by whatever means necessary, she is simultaneously an anachronism and an example of a modern, independent minded woman that lives life according to her own philosophy. Because neither side of her identity fits the culture in which she finds herself with Stanley and Stella, the community eventually expels her at the play’s conclusion. This is due to the fact that “sociocultural values denote strong underlying convictions many people in a group or in society hold, consciously as well as unconsciously, most of which would be considered of an ethical or philosophical nature” (Dolfsma 355). Throughout the play, Blanche verbally taunts or talks negatively about Stanley with Stella, calling him names in mockery of his Polish heritage, working class background, table manners, and authoritarian personality. Because Blanche speaks of Stanley as an inferior with bestial tendencies, she is unwilling to “offer a way of communicating messages to the relevant ‘audience’ and. enable individuals to make and maintain social relations” (356). Blanche fully understands modern society’s highest regard for youth, cleanliness, and health in women of marrying age, but what she fails to realize is that the retaining or procuring of these qualities should not compromise her sense of honor, community belonging, and adherence to moral principles. The soap she uses and the perfume she wears cleanse and mask her body, yet neither can wash away nor conceal her past with other men as she continues to insist on her purity to Mitch. While Mitch is initially attracted to Blanche and clarifies his disregard for her age, her pathological lying makes him view her as entirely immoral and unfit for becoming a proper wife. The Modernists respected and prized truly clean, youthful, and healthy women not only as an ideal of feminine ELF 2015 (Vol. 6) 10


English Literary File_Vol 6
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