How Does ‘The Poker Party’ Add To Our Understa

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The Poker Party is a pivotal point in the play as it reveals more of each of the characters, and includes the introduction of Steve, Pablo and Mitch. Both Steve and Pablo play passive roles in the play being merely 'the poker players' and have no deep involvement in the story. Mitch however, is introduced to be very different to the other men, being much more sensitive, emphasized by being the only man not to have a wife but instead a sick mother who he constantly cares for. Although Stanley is in control of the group Mitch seems weary of his superior and degrading attitude, as shown by his ignorance of Stanley's orders such as continuing to stand up after being yelled at by Stanley to sit down, and talking to Blanche even though Stanley has been shouting to him to return. Mitch reacts to Blanche with curiosity, his concentration drifts from the conversation and the game to the gap in the portiéres.

When he has the conversation with Blanche he is oblivious to her lies and fake role and accepts them as Blanche intends him to. After the 'lunacy' with Stanley and Stella, Mitch and Blanche talk again and Mitch reassures her that everything is okay and as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened because he is used to this happening.

All the characters have been drinking in this scene though the only two who seem to be affected by the alcohol are Stanley and Blanche. Stanley is introduced here as being in control of the men and they all look up to and respect him. In this scene however Stanley is shown with a derogatory and even a slightly rancorous attitude towards the others on account of having been drinking and losing at the card game. In particular Stanley is vindictive towards Mitch due to both Mitch winning the game and his new interest in Blanche. He puts Mitch down for being sensitive as he sees it as a childish attribute as shown by dismissing Mitch's pleads of understanding how he feels lonely as Stanley says 'we'll fix you a sugar-tit'. Stanley's drunken state also results in his easily irritated and impatient attitude. When the Stella and Blanche enter he is impertinent to Blanche after she says 'Please don't get up' he retorts with 'Nobody's going to get up, so don't be worried.' Stanley, as from when he first met Blanche, is suspicious and unwelcoming to her which is partially why he is upset with Mitch for being so interested in her. He is protective of Mitch and doesn't want him to get involved with Blanche. Throughout Mitch's conversation with Blanche, Stanley is shouting for Mitch to return to the game with increasing anger. Blanche turning the radio on also reveals Stanley as being easily irritated and when she turns it on after her conversation with Mitch, which itself was building Stanley's frustration, was the final straw as he throws the radio out of the window in a fit of anger. This leads to show another characteristic of Stanley, he easily resorts to violence. As Blanche acutely describes, 'lunacy' follows as Stanley unleashes his anger on his wife who promptly retreats with Blanche to Eunice's apartment. Stanley then goes into a state of bewilderment, as he is unsure of what just happened. As he realises what has just happened he breaks away violently from his friends who are trying to calm him down and goes to find Stella. Although he persists his macho image in attempting to get Stella back it is clear that he is very needy and dependent on her.

Stella is upset with Stanley in the scene because he is drunk and embarrassed her in front of his friends. She has been in these situations before though and doesn't get too involved with him. She does however stand up for herself - 'This is my house and I'll talk as much as I want to!' She then disappears into the bathroom and reappears before Stanley's outburst of throwing the radio out of the window and then inadvertently takes the last straw and he takes his anger out on her. After taking exile in Eunice's apartment and Stanley makes pleas for her to come back, Stella knows she has to go back despite the row, because he was drunk and that is why she must forgive him. It also emphasizes just how much Stella is in love with him.

The understanding of Blanche is developed much further in Scene Three also. Her alleged vanity of constantly asking how she looks is shown just before Stella and Blanche enter the poker party. Blanche may be fishing for compliments but the main reason for asking about her appearance is that she knows Stanley's male friends will be inside. Another characteristic to do with Blanche's vanity is that when complimented she tends to put herself down, for example Stella says she is 'as fresh as a daisy' to which Blanche replies ' One that's been picked a few days'. In saying this Blanche is attempting a few things, she may be after another compliment and she is saying she can look better to Stella but more so she is saying she can look better to herself. When Blanche meets Mitch she becomes very interested in him as she asks Stella questions of him and once finding him to be a single sensitive man she sees him as an easy target, and as the topic of conversation changes between her and Stella she deliberately changes in full view of the poker players through the portiéres. When Stella is in the bathroom, Blanche's flirtatious attitude is shown to new depths as she talks to Mitch. This conversation shows that Blanche has no problem lying to seduce a man. She lies about her age saying she is younger than her sister when in fact Blanche is five years older than Stella. She then asks Mitch to cover the light with a shade. This is not only to change the topic of conversation from her age it is to hide in the shade to hide her age. It also has symbolic reference to the resemblance of Blanche to a moth as shown at the start of the play where it says 'Her delicate beauty must avoid strong light' as although moths are attracted to light, if they reach it they will die. By asking Mitch to cover the light she is effectively saving herself from the light and the truth. She also lies when she says, she is 'very adaptable - to circumstances' as she clearly isn't in this case as she's drinking. She lies about Stella being 'run down', about how many drinks she'd had, and it is likely she is lying about the inscription being her favourite sonnet by Mrs. Browning as she is an English teacher so it makes sense for her to recognize it but at that stage Mitch did not know she was an English teacher and so it appears to be another thing they have in common. Blanche lies to make herself seem a better person and not only does she tell lies but in her personality itself becomes duplicitous and lying. She has become someone who she isn't naturally with a soul aim to seduce Mitch. The ambiguity about Blanche in this conversation is whether she is playing a role or whether she actually believes herself.

Blanche's character is also shown to be very out of place, the décor is shown as bright colours as suggested by the array of colours from the 'lurid nocturnal brilliance', 'vivid slices of watermelon' and 'raw colour's of a child's spectrum' all contributing to clash of colours of the room. All this contrasts with Blanche's lifestyle in her moth-like white dresses, pale beauty and her name itself -Blanche meaning white. The end of the scene shows Blanche being very hysterical and the only one to be so perturbed by the 'absolute lunacy'. Afterwards however, she talks to Mitch and after a couple of references to how she isn't used to such madness she returns to her flirtatious and flattering remarks such as 'Such a pretty little case' and ' Thank you for being so kind!'.