In What Ways Does Blanche Evoke Pathos in a Streetcar Named Desire

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There are many sides to the argument of whether Blanche evokes Pathos in Williams’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Critics often argue that her character is such that the audience is unable to sympathize with her, or that Blanche cannot be seen as a tragic victim in the play, resulting in a lack of Pathos felt for her. However, it could be said that because of the many tragic events in her life, such as the frequent deaths, the audience is led to sympathize with her and understand her, despite her unpredictable and at times cruel nature. There are many instances in the play in which Blanche expects sympathy from the people around her, exaggerating a tragic event to provoke it, something which the audience is able to see through when Williams uses dramatic irony. An example of this is Blanche’s explanation of how she has had to cope with the deaths of people around her: “…funerals are pretty compared to deaths… Unless you were there at the bed when they cried out ‘Hold me!’ you’d never suspect there was a struggle for breath and bleeding. You didn’t dream, but I saw! Saw!“ Blanche, during this scene, is attempting to defend herself from the criticism she expects to face from Stella for losing Belle Reve. This scene feels false, and in a way Blanche appears selfish, as she is determined to make Stella feel guilty for not having been more of a presence at Belle Reve during the deaths. Blanche reiterates her selfish character at the beginning of her speech, starting it with “I, I, I, took the blows in my face and my body!” The repeating of the word “I” seems unnecessary and, if anything, the audience feels sympathy for Stella. Even in the opening scenes of the play, Blanche is shown to be haughty and patronizing, in her referral to Stanley’s friends as ‘Polacks’ and ‘Heterogeneous-types’. The language she uses is offensive, and it seems that she means to subtly undermine

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