Blanche Dubois Tragic Hero

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A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, is a play about Blanche DuBois, a delicate Southern Belle fleeing from her past. With her family’s estate gone, she seeks refuge with her sister, Stella, and her brother-in-law, Stanley, in New Orleans. Blanche soon finds that her living conditions in Elysian Fields in an old building with her crude brother-in-lar are from the life she had envisioned. She desperately tries to escape her situation and “avoid realism … by telling ‘what ought to be the truth’ rather than the truth itself” (Drobot). Because of she also is insecure about her beauty, Blanche puts on an appearance of innocence and flirts with the males she meets, including Stanley. Stanley sees through Blanche’s pretenses and exposes…show more content…
Although the fall of Blanche can be attributed to her narcissism and her own choices, the audience feels sympathetic towards her tragic downfall. The character Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire can be classified as a tragic hero because of her tragic flaw of narcissism and for evoking sympathy from the audience. One defining characteristic of tragic heroes is a tragic flaw, which manifests itself as narcissism in Blanche DuBois. The tragic flaw is an “inherent defect or shortcoming in the hero of a tragedy” ("Hamartia") and the heroes’ downfall is the “inevitable consequence” of their flaw (Mason). In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche’s tragic flaw is her narcissism. One common trait of narcissists is their “need [for] constant attention and admiration” (“Narcissistic personality disorder”). Blanche fits this description perfectly. Even though she tries to maintain the appearance of an innocent lady, Blanche pursues men for their attention, first trying to seduce her sister’s husband and later kissing a stranger she meets at the door. According to Stella, Blanch wants others to “…admire her dress and tell her she’s looking wonderful” because complements are “important with…show more content…
For the tragic heroes, “part of what makes the action ‘tragic’ is to witness the injustice of what has occurred to the tragic hero” (Mason). Having the audience empathize and pity the character is what makes the hero a tragic hero. In the play, Blanche is portrayed a fragile character who seems destined to fail. To escape her past marriage, sullied reputation, and property losses, Blanche flees to her sister’s house to seek happiness and escape from her past. Blanche is still haunted by the guilt she feels for the death of her husband, Allan (Seigle). While they were married, Blanche “wasn’t able to give the help he needed but couldn’t speak of” (Williams 95) and said harsh words to Allan which led him to commit suicide. When confessing her past, Blanche mentions that “After the death of Allan--intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with.... I think it was panic, just panic, that drove me from one to another, hunting for some protection” (119). This hidden vulnerability Blanche reveals shows that she is still heartbroken over the loss of Allan. The audience can better empathize with Blanche and realize that her heartbreak was what led her to tarnish her reputation and act the way she does in the course of the book (Siegle). Additionally, Stanley raping Blanche further induces sympathy from the audience. While the rape can be viewed as a punishment for Blanche’s

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