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What to write in A Streetcar Named Desire research paper

Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire is regarded as a classic of American literature, and its central character, Blanche Du Bois, is probably the most memorable he created. Because of this she is a common subject for research papers on a number of subjects, including gender and social issues and the origins of domestic violence. Here are a few points to be considered when writing a paper about her.

Blanche is a very strong example of a dualistic character. She has two very different sides. As a well-bred Southern lady she is polite, refined and very conscious of her image. She gives a public impression of high moral standards and social respectability, and claims to be deeply upset by cruelty and unkindness; her sister Stella describes her as delicate. However in reality she is sexually promiscuous and an alcoholic, and uses flirting and seduction to manipulate those around her. When she discovers that her young husband is bisexual her cruel and aggressive behavior drives him to suicide. She is tormented by this and haunted by the song that was playing when he killed herself; in her mind the song ends with a shot, and she justifies her drinking as an attempt to blot out the sound.

Because of this and other deaths in the family, Blanche has retreated into a world that is based on illusion. Not only is she dishonest to others but to herself as well. When she first goes to stay with Stella and her husband Stanley Kowalski she tells Stella that she has been given time off from her job as a schoolteacher because of her nerves; in fact she has been sacked for seducing a student. At the same time she convinces herself that she is the sort of person she would like to be, rather than what she actually is. Williams represents this by Blanche's attitude to light. She prefers softly lit rooms with shaded lamps and dim candles; it's easier to maintain illusions when the truth can't be clearly seen.

While appearing to be strong and manipulative, Blanche really is delicate. Much of her world of illusions results from the fact that she's hiding. When she falls in love with Mitch she eventually drives him away because she can't accept that he has forced her to reveal the truth about herself. Her eventual rape at Stanley's hands forces her to accept that she cannot deny reality, and her entire world collapses. She ends the play being led away by a doctor.

Blanche is a vivid contrast to everyone around her, especially her sister Stella who is attracted to Stanley because of the very aspects of him that Blanche dislikes - his brutality and abusive nature. Williams uses her as a metaphor for a refined, self-deluded style of Old South life that cannot survive in modern America. It makes her a very interesting person to write about.