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Women's Struggle for Identity

Autor:   •  September 6, 2014  •  Essay  •  1,510 Words (7 Pages)  •  783 Views

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The main characters symbolising women’s struggle for identity, Blanche and Marlene, destroy part if not all of their lives whilst trying for this goal. It would seem strange that the characters would come to this end when the authors are known advocates of women’s rights. However both plays are seen as social dramas, casting a light, often critical on society at the times in which they are written. So it would be conceivable that the plays are meant to be a mirror in order to show the audience, through pathos, how immoral their patriarchal hierarchy is, and to encourage pragmatic sympathy within the audience. The texts were written in very different contexts and, despite the messages being similar, are presented using different techniques.

The openings of both texts serve to foreshadow the downfall of Blanche and Marlene. On

Blanche’s arrival to New Orleans, before any speech whatsoever, her betrayal is already

being thickly foreshadowed by her surroundings matching her appearance. This is less apparent when reading the play because the setting is described prior to Blanche’s appearance, however when viewed as a play, the setting would have been devastatingly effective (with the houses directly behind Blanche on stage) as a device to highlight Blanche’s intricacies. The white frame houses are of a French colonial style, a symbol of the French aristocracy, from which the Dubois family are descended. The houses are also described as having “white frame” with “ornamental gables” mirroring Blanche’s appearance of “daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice.” These similarities serve to foreshadow Blanche’s downfall toward the end of the play by creating a faded grandeur colonial style highlighting the theme of new America’s influx of immigrants versus old American aristocracy. With this image secure Williams can future tell us about Blanche’s future. The streetcar Blanche takes to Elysian Fields runs between desire and cemeteries, foregrounding how her decisions from this point will lead her to love, Mitch, or to her ultimate downfall. Marlene’s failure is similarly foretold in her opening scene, albeit in a less fatalistic way, the inclusion of the influential figures highlights how many women have destroyed their lives pursuing this goal. The act also serves to set Marlene up as a flawed character to create sympathy for her in act 2. This is done by showing Marlene as a weaker character in comparison to the famous historical characters. Marlene says “I don’t wear trousers in the office, I could but I don’t” which gets completely

ignored, comically showing how insignificant her struggle is compared to the other women. The form of the dialogue also tells of Marlenes insecurity when dealing with other powerful women, Churchills use of overlapping dialogue makes it clear that Marlene cannot control the conversation

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