Blanche\'s Psychological Breakdown

In Tennesse Williams\' play, "A Streetcar Named Desire" the readers are
introduced to a character named Blanche DuBois. In the plot, Blanche is
Stella\'s younger sister who has come to visit Stella and her husband
Stanley in New Orleans. After their first meeting Stanley develops a
strong dislike for Blanche and everything associated with her. Among the
things Stanley dislikes about Blanche are her "spoiled-girl" manners and
her indirect and quizzical way of conversing. Stanley also believes that
Blanche has conned him and his wife out of the family mansion. In his
opinion, she is a good-for-nothing "leech" that has attached itself to
his household, and is just living off him. Blanche\'s lifelong habit of
avoiding unpleasant realities leads to her breakdown as seen in her
irrational response to death, her dependency, and her inability to
defend herself from Stanley\'s attacks.
Blanche’s situation with her husband is the key to her later behavior.
She married rather early at the age of sixteen to whom a boy she
believed was a perfect gentleman. He was sensitive, understanding, and
civilized much like herself coming from an aristocratic background. She
was truly in love with Allen whom she considered perfect in every way.
Unfortunately for her he was a homosexual. As she caught him one
evening in their house with an older man, she said nothing, permitting
her disbelief to build up inside her. Sometime later that evening, while
the two of them were dancing, she told him what she had seen and how he
disgusted her. Immediately, he ran off the dance floor and shot himself,
with the gunshot forever staying in Blanche’s mind. After that day,
Blanche believed that she was really at fault for his suicide. She
became promiscuous, seeking a substitute men (especially young boys),
for her dead husband, thinking that she failed him sexually. Gradually
her reputation as a whore built up and everyone in her home town knew
about her. Even for military personnel at the near-by army base,
Blanche\'s house became out-of-bounds. Promiscuity though wasn\'t the only
problem she had. Many of the aged family members died and the funeral
costs had to be covered by Blanche\'s modest salary. The deaths were
long, disparaging and horrible on someone like Blanche. She was forced
to mortgage the mansion, and soon the bank repossessed it. At school,
where Blanche taught English, she was dismissed because of an incident
she had with a seventeen-year-old student that reminded her of her late
husband. Even the management of the hotel Blanche stayed in during her
final days in Laurel, asked her to leave because of the all the
different men that had been seeing there. All of this, cumulatively,
weakened Blanche, turned her into an alcoholic, and lowered her mental
stability bit-by-bit.
Her husband\'s death affects her greatly and determines her behavior
from then on. Having lost Allan, who meant so much to her, she is
blinded by the light and from then on never lights anything stronger
than a dim candle. This behavior is evident when she first comes to
Stella\'s and puts a paper lantern over the light bulb. Towards the end,
when the doctor comes for Blanche and she says she forgot something,
Stanley hands her her paper lantern. Even Mitch notices that she cannot
stand the pure light, and therefore refuses to go out with him during
the daytime or to well lit places. Blanche herself says "I can\'t stand a
naked light bulb any more than ...". A hate for bright light isn\'t the
only affect on Blanche after Allan\'s death - she needs to fill her empty
heart, and so she turns to a lifestyle of one-night-stands with
strangers. She tries to comfort herself from not being able to satisfy
Allan, and so Blanche makes an effort to satisfy strangers, thinking
that they need her and that she can\'t fail them like she failed Allan.
At the same time she turns to alcohol to avoid the brutality of death.
The alcohol seems to ease her through the memories of the night of
Allan\'s death. Overtime the memory comes back to her, the musical tune
from the incident doesn\'t end in her mind until she has something
alcoholic to drink. All of these irrational responses to death seem to
signify how Blanche\'s mind is unstable, and yet she tries to still be
the educated, well-mannered, and attractive person that Mitch first sees
her as. She tries to not let the horridness come out on top of her
image, wanting in an illusive and magical world instead. The life she
desires though is not what