It has been said that Williams deliberately sets up a pattern of tensions and conflicts in the play, which culminate in the ending. Do you agree? In your answer you should include a detailed examination of scene eleven. I think that there is a pattern of conflict and tension within the story because there seems to be a lot or argument distributed fairly evenly throughout the story. It starts of fairly mellow, with two sisters re-uniting after such a long parting.
This so far makes the story look very tame and there is not a lot of fighting or violence involved, which is when the story takes a completely different turn and there are sparks of conflict. This is all very well, until Stella tries to talk about Blanche and he love life, or lack of it. This, as far as Blanche is concerned, hits a soft spot and the first conflict of the story begins. This is very quickly corrected, and they get back to normal swiftly as if nothing had ever happened. This is one of the main patterns that I see.
A fight takes place due to wrong doings, or disagreements, or suspicions and then after a short, abrupt, violent argument, everything is made better bye discussing it, and apologise made. Unfortunately most of these apologise, although legitimate, don’t seem to mean an awful lot, because they are forever being made, and still conflicts involving violence and offensive actions are still happening so often. If the apology was meant, and was from the heart, there wouldn’t be as many conflicts because they would have learnt a lesson.
This is another pattern in the conflicts, the after apology. Another pattern I noticed, was that within the conflicts, one half of the fight, one person, is very much more stubborn and sticks by their guns, as the other one, gives in and does exactly what the strong person says. This happens either voluntarily or by force, within the fights. In the fight about ‘the papers’ Stanley is the much more stubborn, stronger person (in fighting personality and sheer strength), who demands the papers. He uses the ‘Napoleonic code’ to display his argument but also to show he wont back down.
Blanche gives in immediately and shows him the papers, half voluntarily and half from intimidation. I think that Williams sets up these tensions within an overall pattern so that the story looks to be going one way, and ends up doing something completely different at the end, which is known as misdirection. Throughout the story the pattern is that tension builds, which gets to a certain point, and then there is a fight which involves a lot of violence and anger being distributed among each of the characters involved.
Then there is some abuse thrown around, verbally or physically, which then gets to a point that is either too much and the line is crossed, or there is a settlement and one of the parties submit. Most of the conflicts within this pattern are fairly minor, mostly just containing verbal conflict, arguments, and one or two acts of violence, like when Stanley hits Stella in an act of rage, but that was after a few drinks.
Most of the violence involving Stanley is after he has had a few drinks, or many, and he doesn’t have the control over his actions and much as he would if he was completely sober, which is the direct affect of the alcohol he has consumed. When he comes home, quite drunk and Stella is out, he sees Blanche and they start to have a conversation, which swiftly gets turned into an argument, that he knows about her and what she’s been up to and that he has been able to see through her from the start.
This conflict starts to scare Blanche, which is completely justified, because Stanley starts to use brutal force, which makes Blanche smash a bottle as a defence implement, but it doesn’t work, and Stanley once again conquers the conflict, and because of this, almost in triumph, rapes Blanche once she has gone flaccid and limp. In scene 11 there is a lot of tension between the characters, which is very clear. There is a lot of anger between Blanche and Stanley and Stella and Stanley because he raped Blanche.
Both of the women feel violated and let down, because of his offence towards Blanche, and the fact that he cheated on Stella using force, on her sister. This creates a lot of silent conflict, through pure hate for what Stanley had done to Blanche, which is spread throughout the rest of the characters. Mitch is angry as a result of what Stanley did because it was towards a woman who he cared about, whether he would admit it, due to the scene when he calls Blanche ‘too dirty to take home with him’.
Eunice is angry with Stanley, although she doesn’t really show it very much, because she cares about both the girls, and because he wronged them, she feels she should feel an amount of dislike towards him. Blanche near the end of the scene ends up on the floor because it seems she can’t be touched, because every time she does, it reminds her of what he did to her. She has proved earlier on that she can’t handle the past, the memories of what has happened to her and her loved ones, when Stella tries to talk about Blanche’s deceased husband.
This raised a momentary conflict between Stella and Blanche, so when the ‘strange woman’ grabs her, she gets the memory she can’t deal with and conflict is raised again, but this time between Blanche and the strange woman. This ends up with Blanche giving in to the dominant other half of the confrontation, and ends up on the floor in submission. As Blanche gets back up when she has calmed down, and is as if nothing has happened, it seems the tensions have gone and she seems as if she is in a bubble where her hate can not affect her, and her love is very relaxed.
The ending to the play, where Stella leaves the house with the baby cradled in her arms, which is to symbolise that she is leaving forever, and not coming back to Stanley because of what he has done. She sees him as a betraying, nasty man, who uses force to get what he wants, and doesn’t want him to be around her any more and not around her growing child. This way, she avoids any more physical conflict and she protects her child from possibly being hit, which could be likely because Stanley is a very conflicting man, who will do what he can, even if its unjustified, to gets things his way, and get what he wants.