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MonkeyNotes-A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
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Notes

After the brutal climax of the last scene, only the loose ends need to be tied up. In this scene, another poker game is in progress, just as in Scene 3. But where Stanley was on the losing side in the earlier game, he is now the winner. This is symbolic of his superiority within the domain of his household and over his sister-in-law in the previous scene. How completely he has won the battle is soon displayed. Stella is packing Blanche's clothes, for she is being sent to a state institution. Stella tells Eunice that she is not certain she is doing the right thing. It is obvious that Stanley has convinced her to make this decision. He has wanted Blanche out of his house all along. And now that she is accusing him of rape, he has to remove her before the truth comes out. Eunice soothes Stella's guilt feelings by stating that life must go on.

Both Mitch and Blanche are still vulnerable to each other and extremely conscious of each other's presence. When Mitch hears her voice, his arm sags, and he is distracted from the poker game. When Blanche discovers Mitch's present, a look of sadness comes over her face. The reader realizes once again the possibilities that were there for these two sensitive souls if Stanley had not interfered.

Blanche's death wish indicates that she views her life as useless now. Without Mitch, a home, or a future, Blanche has nothing left. She wants to join Allan; the only person who she feels really loved her. In wishing for reunion with her dead husband, she is proving how much of a misfit she is in the present world. It also foreshadows her figurative death when she is taken to the state institution.

Understandably, Stanley's presence unnerves Blanche. When he roughly yanks the paper lantern off the bulb, it vividly reminds Blanche of his ruthless attack on her a few weeks before. With the bright light shining on her, Blanche grows hysterical. Throughout the play, the bright light has stood for truth; but Blanche always covers the bright bulb with a paper lantern, just like she covers the truth with her make-believe world.


At the end of the scene, Mitch breaks down and sobs; but his repentance has come too late to save Blanche. Although Stanley is directly guilty of the rape and Blanche's subsequent insanity, Mitch also shares some responsibility in what is happening to her. If Mitch had stood by her side, Stanley would not have attacked Blanche. He can fool Stella with his lies, but Mitch would have believed Blanche rather than Stanley. With Mitch by her side, Blanche would not be headed to a mental institution. But the past cannot be undone, and Blanche is made to submit to the inevitable. Williams has pointed out throughout the play that Blanche was moth-like and delicate, too delicate to endure the harshness of the brutal, new world that surrounds her. Ironically, the last remark that Blanche makes on stage is that the only kindness she has received has always been from strangers.

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MonkeyNotes-A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
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