English / In What Ways Can You Compare Blanche Dubois And Nora Helmer

In What Ways Can You Compare Blanche Dubois And Nora Helmer

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Autor:  anton  12 January 2011
Tags:  Compare,  Blanche,  Dubois
Words: 1725   |   Pages: 7
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In What Ways Can you Compare and Contrast

Blanche DuBois and Nora Helmer?

Both Blanche DuBois and Nora Helmer are main characters in the two plays A Streetcar Named Desire and A Dolls House. You can compare and contrast the two characters because they do have a lot in common, however, they do appear extremely different at first. A major difference which can be seen straight away is that the two women are living in two different eras; Nora in 1879 and Blanche in 1947.

Both characters are introduced immediately to their respective audiences. Williams introduces Blanche in a long piece of stage directions, describing her appearance to every last detail, whereas with Nora, we find out about her appearance throughout the play. The characters appearances and style are very different. Nora is portrayed at first as a housewife, who dresses smartly, but nothing out of the ordinary for either her time or place. However, Blanche stands out from the environment that she has just entered.

Her appearance is incongruous to this setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and a hat as if she were arriving at a tea or cocktail party in the garden district.

This appearance uncanny for the location which she has just turned up in which is a working class town. It is as if Blanche is out to impress, and that she is obviously worried about what people may think of her. Whereas Nora in A Dolls House does not have to impress everyone as most of the time she is �tied up’ in her home by her husband Torvald.

Blanche is portrayed as upper class, however this is not totally the case, her façade seems to be of this class, however, she is slipping down the social scale, from being an upper class plantation owner, to lowering her self to living in a working class area. This is the opposite of Nora, as her class is permanent; she is a comfortable middle class and is happy with this, as she has the full monetary support of her husband. Nora is on her way up the �social ladder’, whereas Blanche is falling down it.

The first word which Nora says is significant not just to A Dolls House, but also links in to A Streetcar Named Desire. She says “Hide that Christmas tree away, Helen.” The word “Hide” is ironic and symbolic and there are a lot of things that are hidden in the play, most revolve around Nora herself. Similarly with Blanche she has a lot of things that she is hiding from her sister.

This ties in with another similarity between both plays and both women, that they are both living a lie, not just to others, but also from themselves. Nora’s lying starts also immediately with small petty lies, which lead to bigger underlying ones. “How could I help the cat getting in and tearing everything up?” She claims to her husband that she was making decorations for the Christmas tree, when she was really doing something behind his back, and to mask this, she lied and said that the cat tore everything up. When really, she never made any decorations, but she was doing copying to make some money to repay a big loan, that she has also kept hidden from Torvald.

Blanche herself is living a lie, mostly to herself, she keeps her problems hidden from everyone around her, making her very insecure. She seems very nervous when she is around others, and to combat this, she drinks alcohol to calm herself. “Now don’t get all worried, your sister hasn’t turned into a drunkard.” The audience can see that Blanche drinks a lot to calm her nerves, and they also see that she lies to her sister to cover this up. She is living her life in a imaginary world, she wants everything to be the way she thinks, this is why she is often dreaming up scenarios.

Blanche throughout the play is trying to find security, firstly she does this by coming to her sister, then it is even more evident when she tries getting close to Mitch, and when Stella questions her about him.

Stella: Blanche, do you want him?

Blanche: I want to rest! I want to breathe quietly again! Yes – I want Mitch…very

Badly! Just think! If it happens! I can leave here and not be anyone’s problem….

She wants Mitch because he offers her security and “rest”, which she has not had in her life for a long time. She wants Mitch more for what her offers her, than the fact that she likes him. Nora has had totally security from Torvald for many years, she has a comfortable home with two children, however, she is not happy with this, she feels as if she is trapped and has no life of her own wants to be on her own, to be away from Torvald so that she can experience the world for herself. The opposites are clear between the two. Nora is throwing away her security and seeking self-sufficiency; on the other hand, Blanche seeks some kind of security and wants someone to rely on.

Although the era’s in which these two plays are set, both women still live in a male dominated society. This was a problem in both era’s and a problem which both writers wanted to highlight to the audience. This is truer in A Dolls House, and is influential in many of ideas of the play. The problem which causes the split between Nora and Torvald is because of Nora taking out a loan without his consent, this shows how women were sexually discriminated against in the time in which the play was set, as they were not allowed to do certain things which men could, for example it was nearly impossible for them to have a well paid job, resulting in Nora having to go behind Torvald’s back to make some money. Similarly in A Streetcar Named Desire there is clearly a dominance of men over women, this is shown in many different situations, and is clear in the relationship between Stanley and Stella. Stanley can get away with beating Stella, and have her crawling back to him for safety and comfort.

Nora is currently married, and Blanche has been previously, but neither of the women totally knew the men that they married. Nora assumed before marriage that Torvald would be able to give her everything she needed.

You’ve always been very kind to me. But our home has never been anything but a

playroom. I’ve been you doll-wife, just as I used to be papa’s doll-child.

He has been kind to her and supplied her with everything she has ever wanted and needed, except for one thing, freedom. Nora has never been free. “It’s your fault I have never done anything with my life.” This comment from Nora is very sad and moving, but it is the truth, she has been treated like a doll all her life. She has never been free to do what she wants, just been able to do what Torvald wanted her to. However, this changes towards the end of A Dolls House, Torvald starts to lose his control over his wife “You’re out of your mine! You can’t do this! I forbid you!” It is the first time in the play that he has found himself powerless of Nora, she is now telling him that she is leaving. This is the opposite in A Streetcar Named Desire, towards the end of the play Blanche loses her mind and all of her control, Stanley shows his power over her to the audience by raping her in scene X, this does proves that sex equals power, and it almost spells and end for Blanche.

Blanche also did not properly know her husband. Alan Grey was a homosexual, and he committed suicide when Blanche found out about his relationship with another man. Both Blanche and Nora’s husband wanted and needed help from their wives. Grey wanted Blanche to get him out of his homosexuality and Torvald wanted Nora to change him.

Blanche and Nora are at front very different, but behind their facades that are both very similar. Both have big problems in their lives, Nora’s problem and troubles have been brought upon her by her husband Torvald, and her father.

He called me his little doll, and he played with me just the way I played with my

dolls. Then I came here to live in your house.

She has been controlled all her life by her husband and he father, she has had no freedom and has been their puppet, she has been and done, what they have wanted her to be and do. Whereas Blanche’s problems and her outcome have been brought upon by herself, she lives her life as she wants it to be, he life is almost fake.

I tell you what I want. Magic! Yes, yes magic! I try to give that to people. I

misrepresent things to them. I don’ tell the truth, I tell what ought be the truth.

Blanchs is admitting finally her fascination, and her life has been all imaginary. Words like “Magic!” and “Ought” Are exclamated and italicised to make them stand out as they show that Blanche is finally telling the truth, but because she is, she is going insane.

There are clear similarities and differences between the two characters. Both Blanche DuBois and Nora Helmer, have been greatly affected in their lives by men, in both era’s men were dominant and this has a great effect on the actions and lives of the two characters. The main difference between the two is the way in which they change and finish and the end of each play. Nora ends up where she wanted on her own, away from Torvald, able to do what she wants and see the world the way that she wants. Whereas Blanche has got the security that she so desperately searched for at the start, but the security is in an asylum, not where she wanted it to be. Both characters start at two different ends of the spectrum, in two totally different lifestyles, one having security and one wanting it, and both finish at different ends of the spectrum, the opposite to where they started.

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