Who? Blanche DuBois portrayed by Vivien Leigh. Featured in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Why? Aging Southern Belle Blanche DuBois travels to New Orleans to stay with her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley. Blanche treats her brutish brother in law with contempt and he immediately takes a disliking to her. As Stanley uncovers the sordid history behind Blanche’s mask of propriety, she rapidly succumbs to insanity. If Vivien Leigh’s most famous character Scarlett O’Hara was dropped in the middle of a gritty drama, she would create the character of Blanche. She is over the top and theatrical, to an almost irritating extent. Initially it’s quite easy to see why Stanley forms such hatred towards her. While he has a low wage job and a cramped apartment, Blanche breezes in like a wealthy debutante. She cakes herself in make up and intricate clothing to make herself seem young. Stanley’s charisma initially casts him as the suffering hero who has to deal with Blanche’s pretentious mannerisms. As the film progresses, the light and shade in the characters becomes apparent. Blanche is not the innocent, saintly creature she tries to portray. Her backstory features homosexuality, suicide, alcoholism and casual sex. She may lie and manipulate in an attempt to keep up her facade, but that’s only because this facade hides the pain she experienced in her past. As her sanity slips away at Stanley’s hands, she retreats in to a childlike dream world. She is the very definition of a victim as she falls prey to the animalistic characters around her. Blanche is not a straightforward character. She’s not the sympathetic protagonist or the hated villain. She’s a real person, with a sad history she is attempting to forget. That self hatred is deeply affecting and proves to be the root of the emotional impact throughout the film.
Famous Words: "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."