Searching for a Course of Action
Discuss the ideas developed by the text creator in your chosen text about the human need to make a commitment or renounce a course of action.
When individuals feel as if their plans have gone astray, they often find themselves intent on committing to a new course of action through others, in order to restore honour to their societal image. As said individuals attempt to reconcile their past by mending it with the prospects of the future, it is often done through the usage of other individuals who possess qualities deemed useful to their new course of action. These individuals often represent an aspect of the ideal societal image that they seek to attain, and so these lost individuals feed their human desire for acceptance by establishing their course of action. This is seen through Tennessee Williams’ modern drama A Streetcar Named Desire, established through the character of Blanche Dubois – a ruined Southern Belle who attaches herself to certain types of men regarding to whatever she may desire at the time. Blanche’s addiction to men may not stem from attaining their approval, but having society as a whole constant to her new course of action. Williams uses Blanche’s vast array of admirers in order to convey that individuals left shaken by the failed attempts of happiness feel the need to commit to a concrete course of action – one that will attain the approval of society, and do so by seeking the companionship of individuals who possess qualities deemed helpful to their restoration.
After being associated with a “degenerate” of society, Blanche uses the company of soldiers as a course of action, focussed on reestablishing her ability to attract men who are labeled and masculine in society. Following the death of her homosexual husband, Allen Grey, Blanche seeks the attention of soldiers who work from a base not far from her home. This demonstrates Blanche’s desire to rehabilitate her social image, for she dreads the thought of having people believe she is not attractive enough to attract men who possess idolized qualities of society. It is through these men that Blanche commits to a course of action – to prove her worth and desirability, though her image is only tarnished further. Caught up in the whirlwind of passion and acceptance Blanche finds herself once again outcasted by society, for she has proven her ability to lure men of acceptable qualities though the town of Laurel is unsatisfied by the means. The author uses Blanche’s choice of men to argue that desperate individuals become obsessed with finding a course of action deemed acceptable by society in order to fulfill the need of a respected commitment, though it is through this process that they only become more alienated.
Once Blanche has had the opportunity to leave Laurel and come to Elysian Fields she finds herself drawn to the sensitive persona of Mitch – a direct line to Blanche’s societally pleasing course of action. After being scorned for using a multitude of men Blanche focuses singularly on Mitch, and by committing to him she finds herself once again wrapped up in the tricky circumstance of satisfying societal standards. Blanche refers to Mitch as the perfect “gentleman, one of very few left in the world” , for she believes Mitch will be able to direct her course of action down a path that will gratify those around her. The contrast between the soldiers and Mitch is parallel to the alteration of Blanche’s desires, for in Laurel she wished to be seen as attractive though in New Orleans she is committed to the facade of purity. But eventually her tainted reputation of the past weaves its way into the budding romance between Mitch and Blanche, revealing to Mitch that she “is not clean enough” to fit into the role she has made for herself, and once again leaving Blanche a burden of society.
In a final attempt to salvage her tarnished reputation Blanche becomes submissive to Stanley’s advancements and allows him to “interfere” with her course of action. As Stanley comes on to Blanche she choses not to fight for she believes that by doing so she will finally become the quiet woman society is asking her to be – the woman she once scrutinized her sister for being. Blanche ultimately commits to a course ridden with silence and restraint in order to fulfill her need to simply have a future society might accept, and by doing so sacrifices her dignity and self-worth. By Blanche allowing Stanley to “interfere” with her, Tennessee Williams argues that once an individual falls from the “columns” that supported their happiness, they are left with a desire to once again commit to a course of action deemed righteous by society; although, their efforts are often futile for the rhetorical criteria for satisfaction can never be met and ultimately the individual will fail achieve happiness, for their desires do not coincide with those of the collective society.
In the play A Streetcar Named Desire , writer Tennessee Williams explores the human need to restore happiness through a committed course of action deemed acceptable by society, and the impacts the individuals they use to accomplish this can create. Desperate individuals will attempt to morph themselves into certain archetypes in order to satisfy the circumstances presented by society as an attempt at fulfilling their desire to have a committed course of action, established in the character of Blanche Dubois. Williams stages a tragic replication of the oppressive hand society plays in the success or failure of and individual’s happiness, and the influence they gather from those around them out of desperation for approval.