From the very first scene, we as the audience find ourselves sympathising with Blanche. Her first introduction into the play causes this sympathy. Williams describes Blanches appearance as ‘daintily dressed in a white suit’ with ‘white gloves’ and ‘earrings of pearl’. From the first stage direction at the start of the play, a description has been created in our minds by Williams of New Orleans. It is a poor section with a ‘raffish charm’. It is evident then that Blanche is not a character that will fit in here. Due to this fact, I feel sympathy for her as she has entered a world that is new and unknown to her.
Williams describes Blanche as having ‘delicate beauty’ that ‘must avoid a strong light’. The word ‘delicate’ suggests a great vulnerability and coupled with the fact that she is in a territory unknown to her means that she must feel afraid and foreign to the area and so again I sympathise with her character. I find it interesting that Williams chose to describe Blanche in a way that she ‘must avoid a strong light’. He also refers to her as a ‘moth’. This word is also associated with light and suggests to me that Blanche fears the light, as it will show her age.
Williams makes constant reference to ‘light’ throughout the first five scenes, for example, in scene three she lies about her age when speaking to Mitch and asks him to cover up a light which metaphorically refers to her age. This emphasises Blanches fear of growing old. She is fully aware of her age and death comes to us all. It is something we will all experience in our lives and this builds up sympathy for Blanche as many of the audience can relate to her fears. I would also associate a ‘moth’ as a very delicate creature that is attracted to light, though it must not touch it. This reflects upon Blanches character.
Williams is very descriptive of Blanche in the opening scene, emphasising the fact that she is nervous and vulnerable. Her opening conversation with Eunice makes evident the class divide between herself and the locals. She is alone and feels nervous and afraid. Williams directs this through her body language; ‘slightly hunched’, ‘legs pressed close’ and ‘hands tightly clutching’. The quote ‘A cat screeches. She catches her breath with a startled gesture’ again emphasizes how nervous and afraid she is. She feels these nerves again during her first meeting with Stanley towards the end of scene one.
This establishment of her feelings in the opening scene builds up sympathy within the audience as they start to feel for her situation. It in the opening scene, Williams also establishes Blanches drinking problem, ‘… and removes a whiskey bottle. ‘ Again this is something much of the audience can relate to and so feel sympathy for. During her first conversation with her sister, Stella, Williams has written it so that Blanche appears frantic and panicked, which comes across to the audience as quite pathetic. It is because she seems so pathetic that we find ourselves once again feeling sympathy for her.
Williams establishes Blanche as highly insecure. She seeks attention regarding her appearance in a hope that she will be reassured on it. For example, ‘You haven’t said a word about my appearance’. Everybody has insecurity about them and Blanches is about her appearance. It is a shame she feels so insecure and again reinforces the fact the she is fully aware of her fading beauty. Everybody has insecurities and so can relate to Blanche and in doing so feel sympathy for her. Williams is clever in the way he has established Blanches character in the opening scene.
He has made her faults known to the audience but they are not faults she will be condemned for because they are faults the audience can relate to and so feel sympathy for her. In the opening scene we learn of Blanches and Stella’s relationship. They are sisters and Blanche is the elder of the two. Williams does, therefore, make Blanche out to be quite domineering over Stella to a point where she appears rather rude and patronizing. For example, Blanche asks Stella to ‘stand up’, when Stella does not do this, Blanches becomes cross and responds by asking ‘You hear me?