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Blanche du Bois

A flower maiden, as I saw once defined, is a woman who has been betrayed by the males who should have loved and protected her. Often associated with flowers, like Ophelia.

Also, Desdemona, The Lady of Shalott.

Their stories never say anything very kind about the male of the species yet, I admit, I am fascinated and obligated to acknowledge the blame.

The flower maidens seem to spring up out of nowhere in stories and times that are threatening to the woman. In Shakespeare, who could not create a realistic woman character-- in Tennessee Williams-- in medieval literature, where the woman is deprived of rights. Perhaps they are the alter egos of these chauvinists, or perhaps a truly great writer must reveal truth, even surpassing his prejudices.

Blanche du Bois, in her scene with Mitchell, reveals herself, strips her character of lies to reveal the glowing, powerful beacon beneath. He cannot transcend his narrow-minded views to give her the respect of which she is worthy--or perhaps he knows at this point that she is greater than him-- and she turns him away. She goes on to dress in her finest costume and flowers, and hatch a lavish lie to tell her brother-in-law about her departure, who seemingly wanted her gone more than anything else in the world. She is more than willing to obligate him-- but he stops her, directs violence to her and, despite her best efforts to thwart him, commits a crime against her.

In the end, it seems that everyone has failed her-- the women as well as the men. The sister who cannot afford to admit her truth-telling-- the land-lady who fails to see the deep-seated intelligence with which Blanche does everything. They treat her as insane-- they send her to an asylum-- and her tragic life is at an end.

Blanche, of the lavender and violets, is the greatest of flower maidens-- who failed to receive love, understanding and forgiveness from the relations from whom we all need and deserve these things-- victimized by the most despicable of human traits, brutishness.

Vivien Leigh did receive top billing for this film-- and won an Oscar. I have never seen her act better, or a woman more richly employ the power of the female than in this.

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