Blanche the Monarch Butterfly in a Streetcar Named Desire
Uploaded by jleg24 on Nov 25, 2014
In A Streetcar named Desire, Williams uses theme and motifs to introduce and dive deep into the play’s characters. In the beginning of Streetcar, Williams represents Blanche as a moth. A butterflies and moths seem to be very similar; however, their outward appearance, the way they carry themselves, you could even say their character are very different. A butterfly is very "boastful" almost as if its sole purpose is to show off as it goes through life, whereas a moth is timid, shy, it flies around in a way as to try not to bring any attention to itself. Moths are mostly nocturnal, only coming about freely in the dark, butterflies are seen everywhere throughout the day in their respective season. The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a butterfly as "a person interested principally in frivolous pleasure"; or a self-consumed person absorbed on pleasure (line 2). Although Williams does actually describe Blanch as a moth, his own description and conversation call to attention sexual undertones that represent Blanche to be a butterfly instead of a moth.
In Scene I of A Streetcar Named Desire, Williams writes--
Her appearance is incongruous in this setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace, and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district…There is something about her uncertain manner, as well as her clothes, that suggests a moth. (Bloom 51)
Williams’s description would have us to perceive Blanche as an insecure, modest person, a typical young woman of the American Deep South upper class-- a moth. Upon originally hearing of Blanche’s clothing we assume it’s a simple fit, however her clothing style does match with the environment surrounding her. Blanche arrives to her sister’s house wearing this outfit. Her sister, Stella, lives in a run-down three-room apartment. The apartment meets the necessities of life and no more; however, it is not the place for Blanche, a social butterfly. The contrast is so big that Blanche sticks out just like a butterfly stands out in its rightful seasons. Williams never really clarifies the motivation behind the way Blanche’s behaves. Many critics read Blanche’s behavior and argue whether it was ignorance or intentional behavior. Allen Lewis suggests that it was intentional. In The Significant Playwrights of Our Time, he states "Blanche attempts to parade her former...