The word survive has many meaning that are usually not looked upon, usually people tend to compare survive with get past a hard time but in reality survival is actually finding away to deal with life’s biggest problems, not solve them, but learn how to live parallel with them.In Tennessee Williams play : A Streetcar Named Desire, we see three main characters: Blanche, Stanley and Stella, three characters with many problems in their lives trying to avoid their problems and survive. One Survival technique used by all three characters is a very common one; denial.
Denial is very effective as it helps push all problems aside for a moment. All three characters are choosing to hide from their life and are using denial as a way to try and escape reality.Blanche is a woman who’s life took a turn causing her to change lifestyles and is left with no choice then to “visit” her sister whom she has not spoken to in quite the time.
Blanche has been given a new opportunity in which she can create a new life for herself in a town far different than what she was used to giving her the golden opportunity for change. Blanche however faces a more serious issue, she has a background marked by mental injury and isn’t in a sound perspective. She is constantly found cleaning herself as she feels dirty and showering gives her time to think and destress which is cleaning herself. Blanche likes to live in alternate worlds where her problems are not around as much, strong dependence on alcohol has been “helping” her out as it helps hide the fact that she has issues but it is not a permanent solution. All throughout the book blanch is finding different ways to keep herself grounded and calm “When-you-reach twenty-seven!.
…age is a subject that you’d prefer to-ignore!”(Williams 110) It is known that Blanch is not twenty seven.
Stanley and Stella are both very well aware of that yet she still continues to lie. This is a great example that shows her mental state where she really is not stable. Even though it is evident that she is not twenty seven she still lies to hide from the fact that she is getting older. The lying happens over and over throughout the play and everytime she gets caught and questioned about it she goes into denial due to the fact that she actually starts to believe her own lies. Blanchs lies have taken over her life and have influenced her to lie even when there is no reason to lie “I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be truth. And if that is sinful, then let me be damned for it! – Don’t turn the light on!” (Williams 117). Her goal is to recreate her past life but without the pain, and the sadness, which clearly is not possible especially by lying to everyone including herself. Thus denial truly is Blanches method of survival.
Stanley is shown as the alpha male in the play, he always stood out from his friends and at home was always portrayed very dominant. Now, as the play started to unravel Stanley’s change in character began to take slight turn, going from the big,bossy,animalistic guy to a slightly smaller insecure guy who lies to avoid conflict but only to save himself. He started lying and looking for escape when Blanch came into his life. This is due to the fact that this play was written to take place in the late 1940s, at a time in which women were not exactly given the chance to speak freely against men. Since Blanch came from a much brighter life then Stanley she looked down on him constantly giving her the power to talk back and play with him which really affected Stanley In many occasions he would blurt out intelligent sounding sentences such as: “There is such a thing in…
as the Napoleonic code, according to which whatever belongs to my wife is also mine-and vice versa.”(Williams 40). Stanly constantly lies to try and in a way impress Blanche,not so much for sexual reasons but instead so that he can show off and prove to her that he truly is smart (It is essential to bring up that the “Napoleonic code” has nothing to do with what they were talking about) This does not keep going long. Stanley’s masculine state of mind blurs off when Blanche, who has had enough of him abusing her, begins talking up to him in an all the more difficult and hostile way. Blanche had really started to get under his skin and Stanley shows some aggressiveness towards her “I am not a Polack. People from Poland are Poles…
But what I am is one hundred percent American… So don’t ever call me a Polack! (Williams 110). Since Blanche came to town she has right away picked up many negative sides to Stanley and has been trying to show her sister what type of monster she is dealing with”That girl calls me normal” (Williams 98).
This saying did not affect him due to the fact that it was false or because she said it to get to him but instead due to the fact that it was the truth. Although he is aware that he truly does not special and does not stand out from your average male at the time, he is in serious denial. He does not wish to let himself believe that he is ordinary because then that would ruin his alpha male look. He fears he will lose the respect he has earned amongst his friends, and he fears Stella will see through him as she is currently sired to him and is blinded by his manliness to see his flaws.Stella is perhaps the character with the largest issues, she is just a normal wife that obeys her husband at all times and supports him and his actions. Stella has been put if many difficult scenarios throughout the whole story due to the constant battle between blanche and Stanley, whether its for the dominance of the house or for her love, there was a conflict constantly happening where she was always found right in the middle. On on side she has her sister who is really trying to help her out and is telling her that her husband is a bad guy, and on the other hand she has her husband who is telling her that her sister is a liar and that she is not o be trusted.
Although it is evident that Blanche is not the most reliable person, it is evident that she cares about her sister. The concerns Blanche has raised were all true and were raised due to serious problems. Stella was pregnant, Stanley hit her, and she still came back to Stanley and forgave him right away. Stella is blinded by Stanley’s image that she can not see wrong in him, but from Blanches side, someone who is not sired she views a very unhealthy relationship especially since this is not the first time for something of the sort to happen. The calmness in her voice clearly states that this has happened before and that she is not alarmed by what has happened. Although at the very moment that Stanley did physically abuse her Stella quickly forgave him as she is in complete denial that he is not treating her right, she looks for excuses such as “when men are drinking and playing poker anything can happen” (Williams 63) to make his actions seem alright.
The next clear example that Stella is in denial is at the end of the story when Blanche confronts her about Stanley raping her but she decides not to believe her own sister over such a serious accusation. There is no clear reason as to why she chose not to believe her sister, possibilities are maybe its due to the fact that Blanche has been lying throughout the whole play so it is like crying wolf but it can also be due to the fact that Stanley is her husband and that a life with him would not be possible if even the slightest part of her believed this “I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley” (Williams 133). Stella’s only current way of survival would be through feeding herself lies and hiding from the truth, her husband is abusive and she is about to have a child with him and she is scared to see him for the real him as he owns the house and has all the income and is pretty much the reason she can even have a life.To conclude, survival is not easy, it is messy, and it is hard.
There is no correct way to survive, people just tend to do what they believe causes the least amount of conflict. In this case all the main characters chose denial as their way to hide from reality and to be able to push past reality. Blanche uses denial to help her push past her past and insecurities, Stanley uses denial to higher his self esteem given that he has a alpha male mentality and is viewed as one but is challenged when Blanche comes to town, and lastly there is Stella who uses denial to avoid all problems being caused by her loved ones.