1. blanche dubois
Blanche DuBois translates to ‘white forest’. Stella explains to Stanley, “She is [delicate]. She was… nobody was tender and trusting as she was. But people like you abused her, and forced her to change.” The connotations suggested by her name can be interpreted as Blanche’s past and the reputation and ideals she tries so desperately to maintain. The colour white alludes to purity, innocence, youth, and beauty – everything Blanche has lost. When she moves to Elysian Fields as a chance to remake herself and her reputation, she holds these ideals so close to her and will protect them, even at the cost of deceiving others. Blanche is accustomed to the upper class life in the plantation, Belle Reve (translating to beautiful dream), or can be interpreted as living in a dream.
The vibrancy and liveliness portrayed in Elysian Fields is representative of the working class grind and their will to succeed, due to the decline of the upper class. Blanche’s use of pale attire is used to romanticise and glamorise the world around her while attempting to maintain her “title” (the connotations surrounding her name), only further building her illusion. The vibrancy of Elysian Fields contrasting with Blanche’s attraction to pale colours presents the discomfort of these new ideals of racial diversity. She critically compares the culture and environment of Elysian Fields to the Beautiful Dream, constantly reverting back to the sense of perfection it holds, becoming the basis of her illusions.
3. love-letters yellowing with antiquity
Blanche’s love for Allan was perfect; beautiful, pure, and youthful. Until his infidelity and suicide, forever tarnishing Blanche’s ideals for love and security. She keeps these letters out of guilt and desperation as it is the only tangible thing she has to love and idealism. They used to be white, but through time, “yellow[ed] with antiquity”, signifying Blanche’s progressively corrupting idea of what love is. Her late husband’s faults was the beginning of the corruption of her reality.
Allan Grey’s suicide was the beginning of her downward spiral into illusion and madness as she only acknowledges and years for a perfect superficial love. True love had been devalued in her life, acting in moments of lust instead. Her “epic fornications” drove her out of Laurel, with no where else to turn, but Elysian Fields. The “Grey boy” parallels with Mitch’s silver cigarette case that had previously been given to him from a dying girl – foreshadowing the inevitable end of Mitch and Blanche’s relationship.
5. red satin robe
Red is the colour of desire, sexuality, lust, and love. Satin is artificial silk. Blanche wears this robe as Mitch confronts her about her past of “intimacies with strangers” and despite her truth, it is with wrong intentions of manipulating Mitch to love her. She grows more and more desperate to find security and ultimately finds it with Mitch, but this isn’t true love; it is artificial, fabricated. This results in Blanche associating truth with rejection and loss. Mitch’s label of Blanche as an “unclean” woman forces her to perpetuate her illusion of Shep Huntleigh to create a false sense of security to live in.
6. tarantula arm hotel
As Blanche describes her past as, “Intimacies with strangers was all I seemed to fill my empty heart with,” she explained that she would take her “victims” to the Tarantula Arm Hotel, when in reality it was called the Flamingo Hotel. She continued to explain herself with more vulgar and aggressive terms, “Hunting for some protection… in unlikely places.” Blanche is known to twist the truth by making a terrible event sound deceptively beautiful. She deemed herself as the tarantula, representing the dark side of her personality as she makes traps and webs. And when she is done with a “victim”, she discards their remains. Blanche describing herself as the black widow type can be seen as another illusion; she is making herself believe that in that time of her life, she was in control, when quite evidently, she was not. Her promiscuous behaviour resulted in the entire town deeming her as an impure woman and banished her.
7. stanley’s colored lights
“I pulled you down off them columns and how you loved it, having them colored lights.” – Stanley
Stanley explains to Stella how he “pulled [her] down off them columns”, meaning the pristine, white columns of Belle Reve to be at his lowly commoner level. This reveals Stanley’s main interest with his own wife is the primitive passion they have for each other; it’s almost violent. Evidently, sex is the most important aspect to their relationship – they indulge in their lustful practices as a means to reconcile conflict.
8. the blue piano
The blue piano is a significant motif throughout the entire play. Blue suggests loss and loneliness and is played during the scenes that reflect these emotions. “Slow and blue” does the piano play in the scene in which Mitch rejects Blanche for being “unclean”, refusing to marry her. This expresses Blanche’s complete loss of security in reality, her last hope. Now, Blanche lives in loneliness.
9. stanley’s red pyjamas
The night Stella’s water broke, Stanley took her to the hospital, leaving Blanche alone in the house. He returns that night and dresses himself with a pair of red pyjamas said to be used on special occasions. Red: the colour of desire, lust, sexuality. These are the same pyjamas he was clothed in on his wedding night – a night of reckless violence, lust, passion, and sex. All the signs foreshadowed his actions that night. He rapes Blanche and continues to live on without punishment.
10. blanche’s regression (her pale colored attire)
Blanche made attempts to accuse Stanley of rape, yet was left completely ignored, associating honesty with loss and rejection. Having no one believing in her, she descended into complete madness, believing Shep Huntleigh was taking her away on vacation. She dresses herself in pale attire – reverting back to the idealism in the light colours. By doing this. Wearing this pale outfit signifies purity, fragility, youth, and beauty (the factors that allow her to feel security). Consumed with her delusions, Blanche is sent to a mental institution as she cannot differentiate truth and illusion.