Blanche is the protagonist of the play.Throughout the play, she endeavours to keep up the appearance of a Southern lady who belongs to a fallen aristocratic culture to whom manners are morals; she is pretentious in that she pretends to uphold standards of moral rectitude (which she has let lapse) and preaches the values of respectability (which she has lost)
The introduction scene in both the movie and the book are different. the book starts with an elaborate setting which foreshadows the character of Blanche as like Blanche the setting tries to make a illusion of itself in order to escape the state it is in as Tennessee Williams frequently uses juxtaposition in order to draw a contrast.For eg. Even though whole Quarter is destitute it is still notoriously enticing, which foreshadows the character of Blanche as she tries to portray herself as chaste and pure because she cannot face the reality of herself being not pure.In the same way the houses which in reality are broken down as they are weathered grey with creaky stairs appear to be elegant with their decorated roofs also foreshadow the character of Blanche as she tries to hide her signs of ageing. the atmosphere also is deceptive as it tries to hide the sections true colours of decaying by using the turquoise colour of the sky gives out almost a fresh feeling to setting which portrays Blanche as she tries to put up the airs of an aristocrat and acts superior when she meets other people but in reality aristocracy has fallen and she cannot support her lifestyle but still lives in that illusion.The dirty river also reinforces the theme of illusion vs Reality as the river is hiding its own nature by giving out a very comfortable smell of a plantation and in the book Blanche in the same way lies a lot in order to hide the ugliness of the truth as she covers things up to show her aristocratic values even though she has lost them.As May is usually seen as a symbol of brightness and light thus juxtaposing it with darkness also portrays the theme of illusion vs reality as it foreshadows that Blanche might be hiding some secrets even though she appears very bright and cheerful on the outside.Afterwards when Blanche enters wearing luxurious clothing and a pure white dress it signifies that Blanche is somebody pure and innocent but as her appearance is in contrast to the whole settings it makes the reader wonder if Blanche is really the person who she seems to be which throws light on the theme of illusion vs Reality and as she is referred to be a moth which is symbolic as moth cannot get too close to light or they burn and the light can be seen as a symbol of reality thus it also foreshadows that Blanche cannot get too close to the reality is it might lead to her demise.
In the start of the movie Kazan takes a medium shot of Blanche with smoke in the background which foreshadows that Blanche might be hiding something and might even be shrouding the reality.Then as a two shot of the boy helping Blanche get on the streetcar named desire also shows us the theme of illusion vs reality as the streetcar named desire then goes to cemeteries and finally Elysian Fields which can be comprehended as that Desire leads to death as Elysian Fields is a greek allusion for a place where the souls of the dead go. Thus,The theme of illusion versus reality also applies here as Blanche has climbed inside the streetcar named desire, thus it foreshadows that she has entered a illusory world where the reality that Blanche knows might die.
The film version is black and white, which doesn’t allow the director to display the “lurid” and “gaudy” colors that recur in the play. However, Kazan employs different lighting effects to achieve a different atmosphere. Blanche is never shown in the direct spotlight, which is a nod to the main theme of the book – illusion vs Reality. Blanche doesn’t allow others to discover her true age or looks, instead she is always in a partly darkened spot whenever she is seen.Like when she is under the flickering light at the bowling alley a medium shot of Blanche is taken and we can perceive from that Blanche is trying to hide her own looks which is reinforced in the next part of the scene in the bar where she puts the lamp down and then Kazan takes a close up shot of Blanche with her face partially in the dark shows us that she is trying to run away from the reality of her age and enter the illusions. The lighting is also used to show reality and dark to show lies and deceit as whenever she is in the dark she is in her illusory world like when Mitch comes to talk to Blanche in the scene 3 Blanche is in the dark during the whole conversation trying to make things sweet with her lies and we can see the dark as in a a shot Mitch has to hold up a lighter to that Blanche can read the inscription.
At the pier when Blanche goes out on a date with Mitch is one of the most important scenes for the theme of illusions vs Reality as Blanche keeps her in the moving shot from inside the bar to the outside keeps her head down as if she is trying to steer away from light which shows that she is afraid that Mitch will see through the reality of her age thus she turns away so that Mitch is not able to see the reality But later a shot of Blanche with the lamp in focus is seen when she talks about Allan which portrays that she is speaking the truth as Blanche is directly under the light.In scene 9 Blanche screams after Mitch has refused to marry her and after that she goes inside the house and a long shot is taken of Blanche hiding behind the curtain in the dark signifies that she is trying to hide from reality and go into the illusions. As a aerial shot of Blanche in light is seen before which signifies reality.
In scene 10 we see that illusion and reality have gotten mixed up for Blanche as a close shot of Blanche is taken as she moves from light to darkness and light but she still dwells on her illusions and doesn’t say the truth.We also see Stanley breaking all the illusions of Blanche as he throws her into sunlight and sunlight symbolises truth.
– In the book during the Poker night in scene 3 we read that the room is filled with gaudy colours and with the Van gogh’s painting in the outside shows us that whatever happens inside the apartment is the truth due to the the bright colours and as the outside usually remains dark due to the time for example 2 AM in scene 6 symbolises that the outside is illusions, so when in scene 10 Tennessee Williams uses the imagery of lurid and grotesque reflections and shadows which like flames start to figuratively burn the wall of the apartment making the walls transparent shows us that the fine line between illusions and reality for Blanche has been broken.
The symbol of mirror used in both the book and the movie are different.In the book in scene 10 the mirror is scene as a symbol of reality for her age as Blanche sees the mirror and then slams it on the table breaking it which shows that she does not want to face the reality.whereas in the ,movie the mirror is seen as Blanches true emotion like when Stanley tells Blanche about Stella having a baby ,a close up shot of Blanche and the mirror is shown which portrays Blanches true emotions about Stella having the baby.In scene 10, due to censorship,Kazan could not show the Blanches rape thus Kazan portrays it by breaking the mirror which portrays that reality for Blanche has been now fully broken down by Stanley.
The use of Echoes in the book and the movie also have a deep affect as Echoes in the case of the movie shows reality (Stanley speaks in S1)(STanley speaks in the last scene ).whereas in the book echoes are there only by the matron which portray that she has fully broken down as all
Similarities=The use of Lantern,varsouviana (if I have time)
This is how The difference in the depiction of the character of Blanche through the theme of illusions vs reality by the use of setting between the book and the movie is shown.