The playwright, Tennessee Williams, allows the main characters in
the plays A Streetcar Named Desire and The Glass Menagerie to live
miserable lives which they try to deny and later change. The downfall and
denial of the Southern gentlewoman is a common theme in both plays.
The characters, Blanche from A.S.N.D. and Amanda from T.G.M., are prime
examples of this concept. Both Blanche and Amanda have had many
struggles in their lives and go through even more through out the rest of
the plays. The problem is that Williams never lets the two women work
through and move on from these problems. The two ladies are allowed to
destroy themselves and he invites us to watch them in the process(Stine
and Marowski 474). The downfall, denial, and need to change of the two
women is quite evident in these two plays.
First the troubles of Blanche and Amanda need to be recognized.
Blanche hides her drinking problem so well when she arrives and sneaks a
shot of whiskey (William A Streetcar Named Desire, ,Scene1. Page 18.
Lines 12-17) that when she is later offered a drink, she acts as though she
has no idea where they keep them (Williams, A.S.N.D. 1.19.12-15). Amanda
cannot accept that no gentlemen callers are coming for Laura,herdaughter,
thus making it harder for Laura to accept it (Williams,The Glass Menagerie,
1.28.1-5). Blanche and Amanda both do not allow themselves to accept
their problems and work them out. They deny these problems which feeds
them making them larger and even more complicated. When Stella offered
Blanche a second drink she stated, “One’s my limit.” (Williams, A.S.N.D.,
1.21.14-15) Blanche is very “self-destructive” (Hassan 326). She is her own
worst enemy because of how she handles her problems. Amanda
comments at the end of the play that Tom shouldn’t think about his poor
mother and sister in a very sarcastic way (Williams, T.G.M., 9.114.1-3). She
tries to push her problems off on him and not deal with them herself. By
pushing the blame off on Tom, she feels as though she did nothing wrong
and it is everyone else’s fault. If the two women had just accepted that
they were at fault too and not just everyone else they could have moved
on with their lives.
Both Blanche and Amanda’s biggest problem is that they deny the
truth. Blanche denies her drinking problem. She also denies the fact that
she was a prostitute. She even made such an unbelievable comment that,
“I take for granted that you still have sufficient memeory of Belle Reve to
find this place and these poker players impossible to live with.” (Williams,
A.S.N.D., 4.70.1-3) She denies that she ever sunk lower than Stella when in
truth, she was much worse. She was the one who lost her job for sleeping
with a seventeen year old and was kicked out of the town for being a slut
by the mayor. She had the gall to lecture Stella on her choice of men.
“You can’t have forgotten that much of our up bringing, Stella, that you
just suppose that any part of a gentlemen in his nature!” (Williams,
A.S.N.D., 4.71.13-18) Blanche speaks to Stella as though it is absolutely
terrible that she married Stanley, of all people, when she slept with more
people than she could even remember. She shows the “do as I say, not as I
do” philosophy while though at first, Stella is not even aware of her sister’s
past. Amanda on the other hand, just shrinks poor Laura’s self-esteem and
confidence more than it already is by bragging about how she had
seventeen gentlemen callers over one evening when she was Laura’s age.
Amanda also refers to her husband’s leaving her and her childeren as, “he
fell in love with long distances...” (Williams, T.G.M., 1.23.28). She sannot
admit the truth that he just left them. She cannot even admit to herself
that Laura is crippled, she only refers to her as different. Also, when
Amanda looks back at her past, she tends to only remember the good
things that happened. She has blocked out the things that she did not
enjoy and has exaggerated the past to an extent. At one point