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Characters and the way they deal with mishaps

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Harrison M.
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  1. Introduction
  2. "At the 'Cadian Ball?"
  3. Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire
  4. Conclusion

The idea of a false reality is very much present in many works that we have read, but how the stories and its characters deal with the scenarios that provoke such illusions differ immensely. In Kate Chopin's short story ?At the ?Cadian Ball,? the characters deal with hard times by giving in to their primeval and animalistic urges, but do so in a way that is less subtle, as if they are not ashamed of committing such acts. Varying from Chopin's writing, in Tennessee William's play, A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche DuBois deals with her challenging times and mishaps by distorting reality and lying to those around her in an attempt to better her image and console herself. However, she does so in a fashion that hurts everyone at once. Both of these strategies employed by the stories' characters result in different outcomes, which seems to be the main purpose for the difference. However, Kate Chopin seems to have a better understanding of what a reader likes to read, as a happy ending is much more satisfying than a depressing and gloomy conclusion, such as is seen with Tennessee Williams' work. This results in the reader being able to more easily relate to Chopin's work, a concept that usually results in greater satisfaction with a book, and a better understanding for its ideas, meaning that Chopin's work is essentially more effective at expressing its ideas and captivating than Tennessee Williams.

The very title of Kate Chopin's first work, ?At the ?Cadian Ball? already seems to signify a break from reality. A ball is nothing but a party, which is where people go to lose themselves in alcohol and lust, while they have no responsibilities to which they must attend. This ball is depicted as a huge event, one that everyone seems to wish to go attend, but it is obvious that it is viewed as a place where one can let loose. Within the first page of the story, this is apparent as Calixta, the beautiful Spanish belle whom the men seem to yearn for, is described as ?having a breath of scandal whispered? about her past actions at such balls. This seems to set the stage for future promiscuity among the characters within the work. Chopin also introduces another character who attempts to free himself from the stresses of everyday life by indulging himself in the ball, Monsieur Alcee.

[...] We may have small bit of sympathy for her, but for the most part, the sympathy is lacking. This would not be the case had she treated others with respect and kindness, but her previous actions make such an ending nearly fitting. Unfortunately for Williams, such gloomy endings do not bode well with readers. The ending and Blanche's leaving only leaves us with questions and a sort of uncertainty about whether the right thing was done. Even when we relate her problems to her rape by Stanley, we still do not feel much pity. [...]


[...] Not only this, but it appears that he realizes he has messed up and will never truly abandon her. But possibly one of the greatest instances in which Chopin describes her characters as becoming morally right occurs when Calixta deals with Babinot. While he is by no means an affluent or attractive character, Calixta knows he will love her and treat her right, so she agrees to marry him. In her case, this all but throws out all of her previous actions, no matter how devious they were. [...]


[...] This lack of connection we have with Blanche makes an understanding of the ending hard to grasp. As we progress through both Williams' and Chopin's stories, we gain insight into why the characters of Blanche, Calixta, and Alcee behave in such ways, but the feelings we obtain concerning them are drastically different. This difference is chiefly due to the way the writers depict the characters' actions and personalities, as no one feels much sympathy for a character who abuses those around herself. [...]

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