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Blanche Must be Mad: A Re-reading of Blanche’s Madness in a Streetcar Named Desire

Author ZhanJunFeng
Tutor LiuYan
School Guangdong University of Foreign Studies
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Madness / Psychosis Neurosis Psychiatry Psychoanalysis Feminism Patriarchy Split Subject Desire
CLC
Type Master's thesis
Year 2005
Downloads 682
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The existing criticism of A Streetcar Named Desire has always taken Blanche’s madness to be a self-evident fact rather than a debatable possibility. Consequently, the authenticity of her madness remains unverified and the cultural, clinical and individual determinants of her madness remain unelaborated. This study, therefore, seeks to reevaluate Blanche’s madness in light of the psychoanalytic discourse, complemented by some other primary 20th century approaches to madness, ranging from psychiatry, Foucaultian theories, anti-psychiatry, schizoanalysis and ultimately, feminism, to draw the conclusion that Blanche must be mad.To that end, Chapter One is devoted to reviewing the main criticisms of the play and to delineating the multi-leveled concept of madness; Chapter Two attempts to diagnose Blanche’s mental state with psychoanalytic theories and concludes that she is not mad; Chapter Three continues to probe into the patriarchal cultural determinant of Blanche’s madness by arguing that Blanche has to be mad; Chapter Four sets to examine the individual experience of Blanche and proposes that she wants to be mad; Chapter Five discusses the chance of real lunacy after Blanche enters into the asylum and reaches the conclusion that she will be mad. To sum up, Blanche is not mad but she must be so, since she has to and wants to be mad, and it is predictable that she will be mad in the near future.

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