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A Streetcar Named Desire

How does Blanche control the agenda and conversation in this dialogue? (Scene 6 pg 68-72) Blanche very much so leads the conversation between her and Mitch. She speaks in an imperative tone towards him, stating that she ‘wants you to have a drink! ’. This portrays how she is in control and can divert the issue of whether she ‘wants a drink? ’, by playing the role of the hostess. She insists they have a drink because despite Blanche wanting one, she will not have a drink unless Mitch does so too, and so she manages to hide her weakness and need to drink by demanding that Mitch joins her.

Blanche guides the conversation by asking questions because she knows that Mitch is inclined to answer. She asks ‘Why should you be so doubtful? ’ in the hope that Mitch will answer in a way that she desires to make her feel wanted. Blanche is careful to guide the conversation around the agenda she wishes to speak about, for example when she speaks of ‘the kiss I objected to’, it makes her feel dominant in comparison to Mitch, and desired. Mitch cannot deviate from the conversation because Blanche always asks a question to bring the focus back to her chosen agenda.

This is shown when Mitch attempts to deviate and asks ‘how old are you? ’, whereby Blanche replies by questioning ‘Why do you want to know? bat 9’. Blanche speaks in an instructive manner and an authoritative tone towards Mitch, such as when she demands that he ‘Sit down! ’. This conjures up imagery of Mitch being likened to Blanche’s dog, whereby she leads him and treats him as if he needs instructions. When Blanche asks Mitch to ‘see if you can locate my key in this purse’, it suggests her capacity to be manipulative. She deliberately chooses to talk about finding her key to imply that she has to leave.

Blanche’s length of contribution to the on-going dialogue is much longer than Mitch’s, who acts as a receiver. Blanche often interrupts Mitch, such as when he talks of how ‘I kissed you, you –‘ and then Blanche interrupts with ‘Honey, it wasn’t the kiss I objected to. ’ Blanche sometimes does not let Mitch finish his sentence and this implies the control Blanche has over the conversation because of her ability to interrupt him, and then submit him to a long explanatory dialogue, as if to make sure she conveys her point.

Blanche is portrayed as the dominant character between her and Mitch, as the stage directions describe how she ‘precedes him into the kitchen’. This shows how she leads into the kitchen and he follows, which reinforces the connotations of Mitch being like her dog, or a lost puppy who is eager for love and affection from a woman. This idea that Mitch is not the alpha male in their relationship (in comparison to Stanley in his and Stella’s relationship), is reinforced when he ‘stands awkwardly behind her’.

As a reader we see that Mitch never feels completely comfortable around Blanche, such as earlier in the play when he gives an ‘embarrassed laugh’ and ‘coughs a little shyly’ around her. This can be juxtaposed with how Blanche confidently flirts around him and slips on ‘the dark red satin wrapper’ which could be interpreted as quite promiscuous, and suggests that it is Blanche who is the dominant and controlling figure in their relationship. The idea that Blanche is manipulative perseveres when she states ‘let’s leave the lights off.

Shall we? ’ This shows how she can trick Mitch into believing her illusion and he naively agrees. The way in which Blanche asks a rhetorical question and answers it herself shows she makes the decisions and Mitch has to adhere. Blanche knows that Mitch is aware of what is expected of him by her, and her controlling nature is shown by the way she compliments him. She exclaims that Mitch’s weight is ‘awe-inspiring’, which makes her feel good when her weight is shown in comparison as being as ‘light as a feather’.

This makes her think she can allure him in, and the idea that Mitch is taken in by her compliments is shown in the way that he now has longer utterances of dialogue. By complimenting him and calling him ‘Samson! ’, it boosts his ego and makes him feel more masculine and in control. This is expected when you consider a stereotypical man, and Mitch has most likely been feeling quite downtrodden after the antics of the poker night, whereby he was overwhelmed by very masculine figures, and so this compliment would boost him.

Blanche asks ‘Voulez-vous couches avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez pas? Ah, quell dommage! ’ which is translated to ‘would you like to sleep with me tonight? You don’t understand? Ah, what a pity! ’. This portrays how Blanche teases Mitch because she is certain that he won’t understand. This shows how Blanche is in control because it emphasises their differences and makes Blanche seem like the well ‘cultured’ woman she tries to suggest she is.

Up to this point in the scene, Blanche has been very ladylike and proper, and this dialogue is an insight into how it’s as if her past is catching up with her and she couldn’t resist being promiscuous and asking for sex. The way she changes the meaning of the French And pretends she was talking about finding ‘some liquor’ shows how she can deceive Mitch. This highlights the dichotomy of Blanche – there are many different sides to her whereby she can be flirtatious and promiscuous and proper and ladylike, later asking him to ‘unhand me, sir. ’

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