A Streetcar Named Desire: Theme & Key Quotes: Marriage

A streetcar named desire: theme & key quotes: marriage, understanding marriage in the play.

  • Marriage is presented as an institution that allows Stanley Kowalski to display his dominant, controlling nature while simultaneously revealing Stella’s submissive character.
  • Stella and Stanley’s marriage is a key part of their identities, with Stella showing a degree of dependency on Stanley due to her pregnancy and their socio-economic circumstances.
  • Blanche uses Stella’s marriage to Stanley as a means to depict the distinctions between the old and new South , with the traditional world disapproving of Stanley’s animalistic behaviour and Stella’s tolerance of it.
  • Stella : “I’m not in anything I want to get out of.” This highlights Stella’s acceptance of her life, signifying her contentment in marriage regardless of Stanley’s animalistic tendencies.
  • Stanley : “I am the king around here, so don’t forget it.” This underscores Stanley’s sense of entitlement, suggesting that he views marriage as an institution that bolsters male dominance.
  • Blanche : “He acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one!” Here, Blanche shows her disdain for Stanley’s behaviour, reflecting the class conflict and societal norms associated with marriage in the South.
  • Manhood and Masculinity : Stanley’s actions in his marriage showcase his need for control and dominance, mirroring the societal expectations of masculinity. This contrasts with Blanche’s view of masculinity as a more refined, chivalrous quality.
  • Dependency : Stella’s seeming acceptance of Stanley’s behaviour underlies her dependency on the marriage for emotional, economic, and social stability.
  • Class Conflict : The differing views on Stella’s marriage between Blanche and Stella reveal the deep-seated class tensions in society, with Blanche’s disapproval representing the disillusionment of the upper class with the societal changes.

Literary Style and Devices

  • Foreshadowing : Stanley’s brutish behaviour and Stella’s unwavering acceptance hint at the inevitability of Blanche’s downfall.
  • Symbolism : The poker game represents Stanley’s dominance and control in his marriage, highlighting the power struggle between sexes.
  • Tennessee Williams’s use of dialogue effectively unravels the societal views on marriage with Blanche’s high-pitched critique of Stanley’s behaviour starkly contrasting Stella’s casual acceptance.
  • Dramatic irony is employed when Blanche warns Stella about Stanley’s animalistic attributes, unbeknownst to her that Stella is aware of them, indicating Stella’s conscious choice to stay in an unhealthy married life for her stability.

This analysis provides a deeper insight into the theme of marriage in “A Streetcar Named Desire”. It is vital to integrate these points cohesively into your essay to provide a comprehensive understanding.

A Streetcar Named Desire Theme of Marriage

marriage in a streetcar named desire essay

The central marriage in A Streetcar Named Desire operates on a tumultuous combination of hero-worship, aggression, sexual attraction, and a difficult class difference between husband and wife. Despite the challenges, we never doubt for a moment the intensity of love these two feel for each other.

There’s something primitive or almost animal in the ferocity of their interactions – both fighting and love-making – that makes their relationship difficult for some other characters to understand. In this marriage, we definitely see traditional gender roles of a dominant husband who brings home the money and pays the bills; and the doting housewife who is responsible for making dinner, cleaning up, and raising a child.

Questions About Marriage

  • How does Blanche’s presence change the dynamic between Stella and Stanley?
  • Is the Kowalski marriage a healthy one?
  • Does it seem like Blanche and Mitch’s potential marriage would be healthy?
  • What’s the difference between Steve and Eunice’s marriage and Stella and Stanley’s? What does the upstairs couple tell us about the downstairs couple?

Chew on This

There are no positive relationships between men and women in A Streetcar Named Desire .

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Literary Theory and Criticism

Home › Drama Criticism › Analysis of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire

Analysis of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire

By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on October 13, 2020 • ( 0 )

Tennessee Williams ‘s (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983) A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), is generally regarded as his best. Initial reaction was mixed, but there would be little argument now that it is one of the most powerful plays in the modern theater. Like The Glass Menagerie , it concerns, primarily, a man and two women and a “gentleman caller.” As in The Glass Menagerie , one of the women is very much aware of the contrast between the present and her southern-aristocratic past; one woman (Stella) is practical if not always adequately aware, while the other (Blanche) lives partly in a dream world and teeters on the brink of psychosis; the gentleman caller could perhaps save the latter were circumstances somewhat different; and the play’s single set is a slum apartment. It is located in Elysian Fields, a section of the French Quarter of New Orleans. The action takes place in the downstairs two-room apartment rented by the Kowalskis.

marriage in a streetcar named desire essay

Marlon Brando and Kim Hunter in the 1951 adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire

Stella Kowalski relaxes in a shabby armchair in the bedroom of the small apartment. She eats chocolates and reads a movie magazine. Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, enters, carrying a package of meat dripping with blood and yelling for his wife. Stanley tosses the meat to Stella, who catches it in a surprised reaction. Stanley leaves to go bowling with his friends, and Stella decides to tag along. She hurriedly primps in the living room mirror, quickly closes the apartment door behind her, and says hello to Eunice Hubbell and a Negro Woman who are sitting on the landing. As she exits, the two women laugh about Stanley’s lack of manners.

Blanche DuBois enters. She is carrying a small suitcase and a piece of paper. She is a fading Southern belle, whose appearance suggests she is going to a garden party, but her search for her sister, Stella, has landed her in the slums of the French Quarter. Eunice notices the confused Blanche, and she asks whether she is lost. Blanche explains that she was instructed to take a streetcar named Desire to Elysian Fields via a streetcar called Cemetery. Eunice informs her that she is indeed in the right place. Eunice lets her into the Kowalskis’ apartment to wait for Stella while the Negro Woman fetches Stella from the bowling alley. Blanche has arrived unannounced, and she is shocked to discover Stella living in such a dismal place.

Blanche searches for a drink, and Stella enters. The two sisters are ecstatic to be reunited. Blanche speaks excitedly, overwhelming Stella with criticism of the apartment. Stella is speechless and hurt by these remarks, and she notices that Blanche is shaking and anxious. Stella is concerned by her sister’s behavior, and she attempts to calm her nerves by offering her a drink. Blanche urges Stella to explain why she is living in such depressing conditions. Blanche says she has taken a leave of absence from her high school teaching job. She says that she is having a difficult time and needed a break. Blanche mentions the weight Stella has gained, and she compliments her on her appearance; however, Stella knows that her sister is being critical. Blanche demands that Stella stand so she can fully analyze the size of her hips, her less than perfect haircut. She asks Stella about having a maid, but the Kowalskis’ apartment only consists of two rooms. Blanche is horrified by this news. She pours another drink to curb her intolerance of the place. Blanche has been lonely; she feels her sister abandoned her when she left Mississippi and their father died. Blanche admits that she is not well. Stella insists that her sister stay at the apartment, and she directs her to a folding bed. She insists that Stanley will not mind the lack of privacy, as he is Polish. Stella advises her sister that Stanley is unlike the Southern gentlemen they knew back in Laurel, Mississippi. She confesses he is ill mannered, but she is madly in love with him.

Blanche confesses that she has lost Belle Reve, the family plantation. Blanche expresses her resentment of her sister because she was “in bed with [her] Polack” while Blanche scraped and clawed to hold on to Belle Reve. Stella is very upset to know that they have lost their homestead. Blanche bitterly blames the foreclosure on the many deaths in the family. Blanche is plagued with guilt, as well as being hopelessly adrift, and she projects her feelings of loss onto Stella, who runs into the bathroom to escape her sister’s wrath.

Stanley returns home. He shouts to his friends, Steve Hubbell and Mitch (Harold Mitchell), from the stairwell. Blanche speaks to him before he notices her presence. Stanley is cordial to her and asks for Stella, who has locked herself away in the bathroom. He offers Blanche another shot of whiskey, noticing that the bottle has already been sampled. Blanche declines the offer, stating that she rarely drinks. Her obvious dishonesty spurs Stanley to ask some very personal questions regarding her past, namely, about her husband. He sheds his sweaty shirt to find relief in the summer heat and welcomes her to stay with them. Upset by his meddlesome inquiries, Blanche replies that her young husband is dead. She grows nauseous discussing this subject and has to sit down to regain her composure.

Around six o’clock the following evening, Blanche and Stella plan to have dinner out and see a movie while Stanley and his friends have a poker night in the apartment. While Blanche readies herself in the bathroom, Stella tells Stanley that Belle Reve has been lost. She also warns him not to mention that she is pregnant because Blanche is already so unstable. Stanley is most concerned with the loss of the estate. He suspects Blanche sold the plantation and kept all of the profits for herself. Referring to the Napoleonic Code, Stanley wants to know whether he has been swindled. To find proof of the foreclosure he rummages through Blanche’s trunk. Appraising the furs and jewelry she has, he urges Stella to acknowledge that Blanche has deceived her. Stella fears the looming confrontation, so she escapes to the porch.

When Blanche emerges from her hot bath and realizes that Stella is not around, she flirts with Stanley as a means of winning him over; however, he is interested only in the profits from Belle Reve. When Stanley accuses Blanche of selling the plantation and keeping all of the money, she insists that she has never cheated anyone in her life. She says, “I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion, but when a thing is important, I tell the truth.” Stanley rifles through the trunk again, searching for documents that will prove Blanche is lying. Stanley discovers yellowing letters held together by aging ribbons, and he withholds these visibly precious items until she pulls two manila envelopes from her belongings. Blanche says that his touch has contaminated her cherished love letters. She tells Stanley that this paperwork is all that is left of the plantation, and he continues berating her by demanding to know how she could allow the foreclosure to happen. Blanche recoils with anger and retorts that the plantation has been lost by generations of negligent men who “exchanged the land for their epic fornications.” Stanley intends to have the documents read by a lawyer friend, and Blanche invites him to do so. Now that Stanley has been proved wrong, he justifies his concern with the fact that Stella is pregnant. This is a happy digression for Blanche, who is genuinely excited by this information. When Stella returns, Blanche expresses her joy about the baby. She brags that she handled Stanley and even flirted with him. The two sisters leave as Stanley’s friends arrive for their poker night.

Later that night in the Kowalski apartment, Stanley and his friends are still drinking and playing cards. Stella and Blanche return at 2:30 A.M., and Stanley asks them to visit Eunice until the game is over. When Stella does not comply, Stanley slaps her backside as a means of countering her disobedience in front of his friends. Blanche is intrigued by Mitch, who is uninterested in the poker game because he is worried about his ailing mother. Blanche is immediately attracted to his sensitivity. The two introduce themselves. Mitch offers her a cigarette, showing her the inscription on his cigarette case. She immediately recognizes it as the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Mitch explains the case is from a former girlfriend who died. Mitch’s story of his former lover resonates with Blanche’s own sense of loss of her young husband, Allan Grey. She tells Mitch, “Sorrow makes for sincerity,” and continues, “Show me a person that hasn’t known sorrow and I’ll show you a superficial person.” She asks Mitch to cover the naked lightbulb with a Chinese lantern she recently purchased.

Stanley grows more inebriated and increasingly irritated by the music Blanche is playing. He crosses the room, rips the radio from the wall, and throws it out of the window. He hits Stella when she tries to stop him. Humiliated and stunned, Stella runs into the kitchen area and orders Stanley’s friends to leave. Stanley chases and attacks Stella. Blanche begs Mitch to stop him, and the men restrain Stanley on the sofa. Blanche whisks Stella to Eunice’s apartment upstairs while the men attempt to sober Stanley. After a cold shower, he stumbles out of the bathroom, goes out onto the porch, and yells up to Stella. He continues to shout for Stella, who descends the stairs and returns to him. Stanley falls to his knees, pressing his head against her legs. Kissing passionately, the couple retreat to their bedroom. Blanche runs down after Stella. When she discovers them making love, she is angered by her sister’s weakness. Mitch calls out to Blanche. They share another cigarette. Blanche is thankful for Mitch’s kindness.

Early the next morning, Blanche returns to the Kowalski apartment after spending the night at Eunice and Steve’s apartment. When she realizes Stella is alone, she hugs her with nervous concern. Stella, on the other hand, is cheerful and content. Stella blames liquor and poker for Stanley’s behavior. She explains to her sister that she gets a thrill from her husband’s extreme actions. Blanche is infuriated. She says Stella has married a “madman.” While Blanche devises an escape plan for them, Stella tidies the apartment. Stella says she is happy with Stanley. Blanche is still bewildered by Stella’s cool resignation.

Blanche remembers an old beau, Shep Huntleigh, whom she plans to call on for their escape, but Stella does not want to be rescued. Blanche compares Stanley to an ape. During this conversation, Stanley has returned unnoticed. He has heard everything that has been said. All of Blanche’s persuading has been in vain: When Stella sees Stanley, she runs over and jumps into his arms.

Blanche has been living at the Kowalskis’ apartment for three months. While she finishes writing a letter to Shep about imaginary cocktail parties she has been attending, Stanley enters. He slams drawers and creates noise to express his irritation by Blanche’s presence. To provoke Stanley, she asks him his astrological sign. He remarks that he is a Capricorn (the goat) and Blanche replies she is Virgo, the sign of the virgin. Stanley laughs and asks her about a man by the last name of Shaw who claims to have spent an evening with Blanche at the Flamingo Hotel. Blanche adamantly denies this accusation, but her face registers panic and alarm. Stanley is victorious and exits to go bowling.

Analysis of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie

Blanche becomes hysterical. She asks Stella whether she has heard rumors about her, but Stella gracefully denounces gossip. Blanche confesses that she did not maintain a good reputation when she was losing Belle Reve. She admits her fears of being a “soft” person, of needing people too much, and of her fading beauty. Blanche fears she will not be able to “turn the trick” much longer because she is visibly aging. She also confesses that she lied about her age to Mitch because she wants him to fall in love with her. Blanche has presented an illusion of herself as a prim and proper woman to Mitch. Stella is accustomed to Blanche’s nervous tirades, and she pays little attention to what her sister is actually saying. Stella comforts her by pouring her a drink. A young boy stops by the apartment selling newspapers. On his way out, Blanche calls him back inside and kisses him. Blanche chastises herself for putting “her hands” on the boy. He leaves and Mitch arrives with a bouquet of roses for her.

Later that night, Blanche and Mitch return from a disappointing date. Blanche blames herself for the dull evening. Mitch asks whether he may kiss her good night, and she consents but says their actions can go no further because she is a single woman. Stanley and Stella are not home, so Blanche invites Mitch in for a nightcap. Blanche plays the coquette while Mitch perspires with desire for her. While she searches for a bottle of whiskey, Blanche asks Mitch in French whether he would like to sleep with her. She comments that it is a good thing Mitch does not understand French. She encourages him to take off his coat, but he is embarrassed by his sweatiness. Blanche asserts that he is just a healthy man.

When Mitch suggests that the four of them go out together sometime, Blanche makes it clear that Stanley hates her. She asks whether Stanley has said anything derogatory about her. Mitch replies that he does not understand how Stanley could behave so rudely to her. Blanche says she plans to leave as soon as Stella has the baby.

Mitch asks Blanche her age, and Blanche refuses to answer. He explains that he asks because he has been with his mother talking about her. Blanche presumes Mitch will be very lonely when his mother dies. She explains that she knows this sort of loneliness firsthand because her one true love has passed away. She tells Mitch about Allan’s tenderness and sensitivity and says that she never understood him until she discovered he was having an affair with an older man. Blanche explains that Allan needed her to help him, but she could not see what was happening until it was too late. She confronted him while they were drunk at a dance at Moon Lake Casino. Her words provoked him to run to the edge of the lake and commit suicide. She can still hear the polka music that was playing during the time. Blanche cannot forgive herself for condemning Allan’s desires and pushing him to such drastic measures. She compares her love for Allan to a“blinding light.” Mitch answers that they are both lonely, and they both need someone. The polka tune that continually plays in Blanche’s mind ceases. Mitch and Blanche embrace with thoughts of marriage.

Several weeks later, Stanley arrives home after a day of work to find the apartment decorated for Blanche’s birthday party. He is disgruntled to know that Blanche is taking a hot bath, making the apartment even hotter and increasingly unbearable. Stanley proudly announces to Stella that he has found out the real story behind her sister’s extended visit. She was fired from her teaching job because she had an indecent relationship with a 17-year-old boy and set up residency at the Flamingo Hotel, which she was then forced to leave because of her sexual excesses. She has become the laughingstock of Laurel, Mississippi. Stella is profoundly stunned by this information, and she tries to defend Blanche by explaining the tragic situation with Allan. Stanley informs Stella that he felt it was his duty to warn his friend about Blanche. Blanche calls for a towel and notices a strained expression on Stella’s face, but Stella assures her nothing is wrong. Stella is fraught with worry about what will happen to Blanche now that Mitch is likely to abandon her. Stanley implies that Mitch may not be through with Blanche, but he certainly will not marry her. He remarks that he bought Blanche a bus ticket back to Laurel. Stanley yells for Blanche to get out of the bathroom so that he can use it. Sensing something is wrong, Blanche cautiously enters the room.

Nearly one hour passes. Stella, Stanley, and Blanche are eating dinner. Blanche is trying to ignore the empty chair where Mitch would be sitting. Blanche tries to lighten the mood of the party by telling a joke, but no one finds it funny. Stella says Stanley is “too busy making a pig of himself.” She instructs him to wash up and help her clean the table. Stanley flies into a rage, sweeping the table’s contents to the floor, and declares that he is the king in his home. When Stanley leaves the table and goes out onto the porch, Blanche begs Stella to tell her what is going on. Blanche calls Mitch’s home while Stella chastises her husband for passing rumors to Mitch. Stanley presents the bus ticket to Blanche. She runs into the bedroom crying. Stella yells at Stanley for being so terrible to Blanche. Stanley reminds his wife that she loves his commonness, especially at night in their bedroom. As he shouts for Blanche, Stella doubles over with pain. She is rushed to the hospital.

Later that evening, Blanche sits alone in the darkness of the apartment drinking liquor. Mitch enters wearing his work uniform. Although he is dirty and unshaven, she admits that she is happy to see him, as his presence stops the polka music that otherwise persistently plays in her mind. She searches for more liquor to serve him, but he declines drinking Stanley’s liquor. Mitch inquires why Blanche keeps the apartment so dark and insists on seeing him only at night. He wants to turn on the light, but Blanche begs him to allow the magic (illusions) to continue. When he wrenches the lantern off the lightbulb, Blanche’s aged face is revealed. He proceeds to tell her what he has heard about her promiscuous life in Laurel. Blanche immediately pleads that after Allan and the loss of Belle Reve, she could only find relief from the pain in the arms of strangers. A vendor is heard outside selling flowers for the dead. This sparks Blanche to talk about all of the deaths in her life. She says she was “played out” when she finally landed in New Orleans. She found solace and love with Mitch, believing that she could possibly find happiness and rest. Mitch embraces her, and she pleads for marriage. Mitch says she is unsuitable. He pulls her hair and demands the physical intimacy she has denied him all summer. Blanche orders him to leave, and when he does not, she runs to the window and shouts, “Fire!” This action prompts Mitch to leave.

A few hours later, Blanche is still alone and drinking heavily. She is wearing an old gown and a rhinestone tiara. Stanley enters carrying liquor. He informs Blanche that Stella will not have the baby before the morning, so he has come home. Blanche is nervous about being in the apartment alone with Stanley all night. Stanley laughs at her and questions her attire. Blanche announces that she has received a telegram from Shep Huntleigh, inviting her on a cruise to the Caribbean. Stanley retreats to the bedroom and collects the red silk pajamas he wore on his wedding night. When he returns, Blanche says that Mitch came by begging for forgiveness, but she simply could not forgive his cruelty. Stanley angrily denounces her lies. Blanche rushes to the telephone and pleads with the operator to connect her with Shep Huntleigh. When she puts down the phone, Stanley corners her. Blanche retreats to the bedroom, where she smashes a bottle to use as a weapon against him. Stanley lunges at her, grabs the bottle, and gathers Blanche in his arms. She fights him, but he overpowers her, stating that they have had this date with each other from the moment she arrived.

Several weeks later, Stella cries as she packs Blanche’s belongings. Eunice holds the baby while Stanley and his friends play poker. Stella wonders whether she is doing the right thing in sending her sister to the state institution. Eunice responds that if Stella wants to save her marriage, she must believe that Stanley did not rape her sister. Blanche enters from the bathroom with a “hysterical vivacity.” She asks whether Shep has called while she dresses. The doorbell sounds and a doctor and attendant enter to collect Blanche. Blanche wants to leave the apartment, but she does not want to be seen by Mitch, Stanley, and the other men. When she sees that the man at the door is not Shep, she tries to run back into the apartment. Stanley blocks her way. He cruelly tells her that all she has left in this apartment is the paper lantern hanging over the lightbulb. He tears it down and hands it to her. Blanche screams, and Stella rushes to the porch, where Eunice comforts her. The doctor and attendant wrestle Blanche to the ground to restrain her.

Mitch attacks Stanley, blaming him for Blanche’s condition. The men fight and their friends pull them apart. Blanche is helped to her feet. The doctor helps her to the door and she says that she has “always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Stella is heartbroken by the scene. She sobs while the doctor escorts Blanche out of the apartment. Stanley consoles Stella by fondling her breasts. Steve announces the next round of poker.

When asked about the meaning of A Streetcar Named Desire ,Williams responded, “the ravishment of the tender, the sensitive, the delicate, by the savage and brutal forces of modern society” (Haskell, 230). All the characters in Streetcar have been ravished by life to some degree. Although Stanley clearly functions as the most damaging force against Blanche, he, too, has also been forced to grow up too quickly as he spent his youth as a soldier serving in World War II. Reintegration into a mundane, peaceful world does not keep him fulfilled. He is moody and restless, and his animalistic tendencies are challenged by the overly refined Blanche.

Stella is a submissive character, placed in the middle of a war between gentrified society, represented by Blanche, and the rugged, practical world of the working class personified by Stanley. In war there are the victors and the vanquished. Blanche ultimately suffers the most damaging defeat, being institutionalized, while Stanley continues to brutalize his way through life.

In the opening scene of the play, Stanley appears carrying a package of bloody meat, which immediately establishes his primitive nature. In stark contrast, Blanche enters the scene wearing white. Williams compares her to a moth, symbolically stressing her fragility, purity, and virtue. Her pristine attire serves as an effective camouflage for her sordid past. As Chance Wayne (in Sweet Bird of Youth), Sebastian Venable (in Suddenly Last Summer), and Lot (in Kingdom of Earth, or the Seven Descents of Myrtle) do, by wearing white, Blanche uses her clothing to disguise her “degenerate” selfperception. Her name, which is French, literally means “white of the woods.” Out of her unlucky and desperate wilderness, Blanche enters the Kowalski apartment a transformed, mothlike creature of nature, recast as a virginal character. Although she has been a prostitute, Blanche prefers to believe in her renewed chasteness. She lives in a world of illusion and believes that her sexual encounters with strangers never constituted love; therefore, she never forfeited any aspect of her true self.

As has Karen Stone in The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone , Blanche has an aversion to being viewed in bright light that will reveal her true age. As early as the first scene, she asks Stella to turn off the overhead light. Blanche is most comfortable in the warm glow of a lamp that allows her to play the part of the innocent coquette completely. She lies about her age when she courts Mitch and avoids spending time with him in daylight. When Mitch returns in the final meeting with her, he insists on tearing the lantern off the overhead light so that he may finally have a good look at her. When Blanche asks why he wants the glare of bright light, he says he is just being realistic. Blanche replies:

I don’t want realism. I want—magic! . . . Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I do misrepresent things to them. I don’t tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. And if that’s a sin, then let me be damned for it! Don’t turn the light on!

Of course, Stanley has informed him that she has been lying about everything. However, her mothlike, youthful facade is not just used to fool Mitch; it is an integral part of who she is. Blanche wishes she could actually be what she pretends to be. She resigns from reality because it has been too harsh. The “magic” in which she chooses to dwell is her only means of survival, as her suffering has been so great. She fears that looking her age will further discredit her in a world that has already discarded her.

Blanche also drinks heavily, while pretending to adhere to a Southern gender code that restricts well-bred women from drinking in company or in public. This is another aspect of playing the innocent coquette. Late in the play, Mitch informs Blanche that Stanley has talked about how much of his liquor she has consumed, and she realizes that her subterfuge has failed.

Although it is a means of comfort and relief, alcohol has long been a source of shame and regret for Blanche. She particularly regrets her drunken criticism of Allan because she did not mean the words that drove him to take his own life. Leonard Berkman suggests:

It is not the existence of Allan’s homosexuality that signals the failure of Blanche’s marriage; it is, rather, that Blanche must uncover this information by accident, that Blanche is incapable of responding compassionately to this information, that in short there never existed a marriage between them in which Allan could come to her in full trust and explicit needs. (“The Tragic Downfall of Blanche DuBois,” 2)

Blanche responded to Allan’s sexuality with a sense of wounded pride, and as Brick in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF does to his friend Skipper, she spends the rest of her life regretting that she did not love and accept him. Blanche responded too harshly. She loved Allan and truly believed in their marriage; however, she lived in a romantic world of delusion until she witnessed a real moment when Allan was having sex with another man, which completely shattered the illusion. As Blanche explains to Mitch:

[Allan] was in the quicksand clutching at me— but I wasn’t holding him out, I was slipping in with him! I didn’t know that. I didn’t know anything except I loved him unendurably but without being able to help him or help myself.

In this instance, it was Blanche who was cruelly responsible for the ravishment (or abuse) of one that was “tender, sensitive, and delicate.”

Allan Grey’s suicide scene is reminiscent of the final scene in The Seagull by Anton Chekhov. When Konstantin can no longer endure his life and the knowledge that he must live without the love he desires, he is drawn to the lake (like a seagull) and shoots himself. Konstantin and Allan are tragically similar characters, who are gravely misunderstood by those around them. Williams was enamored of Chekhov’s characters, finding them dynamically flawed and powerfully present. Chekhov’s dramaturgical influence is inherent in Streetcar , as the psychological reality of the characters creates the dramatic tension and fuels the action to an unavoidable conclusion.

Blanche tells the story of her homosexual husband to Mitch, who could very easily assume that Blanche and Allan’s marriage was never consummated. Even through her tragically truthful tales Blanche continues to create the illusion that she is prim and virginal. This makes the news of her promiscuous past more shocking and insulting to Mitch, who has respected her wish to abstain from sexual intimacy. Blanche presents the person she would like to be: naive, proper, and respectable. Blanche has found an Allan substitute in Mitch. She longs to have an opportunity to re-create that marriage and have a second chance to make up for her cruel past actions. Mitch is the answer as his sensitivity stops the haunting polka music in her mind (i.e., the painful memories of Allan’s death).

Throughout the play, Blanche frequently takes long hot baths in the sweltering heat of a New Orleans summer. This symbolic act of baptism absolves her of her past sins and cleanses her body in preparation for her husband-to-be. She repeatedly purifies her body in water, and in her mind, by each ritual bathing, she creates more distance from the sullied strangers she encountered at the Flamingo Hotel in Laurel. In moments of desperation and self-doubt, Blanche bathes. This repeated action greatly annoys Stanley.

Stanley and Blanche are archenemies because they possess antithetical personalities, and each lays claim to Stella. Whereas Stanley respects complete honesty, Blanche delights in experiencing the world through rose-colored glasses. She spends much of her time rejecting the harshness of life, and Stanley is always there to make her acknowledge the truth. Blanche enjoys the protocol of the Old South; she is nostalgic about the tradition of Southern life, whereas Stanley hates sentimentality. In his production notebook, Elia Kazan writes of Blanche:

Her problem has to do with her tradition. Her notion of what a woman should be. She is stuck with this “ideal.” It is her. It is her ego. Unless she lives by it, she cannot live; in fact her whole life has been for nothing. (Kazan, 22)

Blanche defines her existence according to the traditions of the Old South. She is completely immersed in that world, whereas Stanley symbolizes the new or modern world that is obliterating that former way of living.

Early in the play these two characters clash over the subject of Belle Reve. It is Blanche’s lost, beautiful dream, rich with family heritage and pride; Stanley is interested only in the property’s material or monetary real estate value. He is happy in the loud, harsh, and dirty world of the Vieux Carré of New Orleans, whereas Blanche prefers finer accommodations, the bucolic setting of hundreds of acres of land and large white pillars on a grand veranda that provide lounging quarters out of the midday sun. Some critics see Blanche as Williams’s most representative character, as she has lost the stability of her ancestral home and is now in exile.

According to Kazan, Blanche’s emotional decline begins when she is stripped of her plantation:

The things about the “tradition” in the nineteenth century was that it worked then. It made a woman feel important with her own secure positions and functions, her own special worth. It also made a woman at that time one with her society. But today the tradition is an anachronism which simply does not function. It does not work. So while Blanche must believe it because it makes her special, because it makes her sticking by Belle Reve an act of heroism, rather than an absurd romanticism, still it does not work. . . . She’s a misfit, a liar, her “airs” alienate people, she must act superior to them which alienates them further. (Kazan, 22)

Blanche is one of Williams’s “lost souls,” those characters who are caught between an old and a new world. As are Amanda Wingfield (in The Glass Menagerie ) and Alma Winemiller (in Summer and Smoke ), who also delight in tradition, Blanche is lost in a modern, industrial society because in it she does not have a special position simply by virtue of being a Southern woman. Belle Reve is her identification or authentication as a person, and without it, she does not possess a self and therefore must rely on others to supply stability, security, and substance. Blanche only realizes that she is responsible for her own financial and social status when it is too late. Her “airs” are her tragic flaw in this new world, Stanley’s world, a world that has been changed through hardship and struggles associated with industry, war, and economic depression. Blanche becomes “a last dying relic . . . now adrift in our unfriendly day” (Miller, 23). Although this situation may make her more pitiable, it does not make her less offensive to her peers.

Blanche’s very vocal disapproval of Stanley serves to isolate her from Stella, the one sympathetic person in her life. Her critical opinion of the dismal apartment and of Stanley’s brutish demeanor creates a chasm in the sisters’ relationship, and her chances of familial bonding are sacrificed. Blanche demonstrates her racial prejudices when she calls Stanley a “Polack,” and her gradual, yet persistent provocations lead to her ultimate violation. This act of rape wounds Blanche to a point of no return. The culmination of Stanley’s victory over Blanche occurs when Stella refuses to believe that her sister has been assaulted. Stella sides with her husband as Blanche’s past and world of illusions (or dishonesty) serve to silence her in her most desperate moment.

Williams’s ability to “capture something of the complexity of the novel within the dramatic form, especially in the area of character probity and psychology” (Adler, 9), has set Streetcar apart and is the reason it merits its status not only as a modern classic, but s a watershed moment in U.S. theater history. Essentially, Williams created a new genre in the modern theater: a heightened naturalism that allows dreams (or nightmares) to coexist with reality.

DuBois, Blanche

Described in the opening scene as “mothlike,” Blanche is an aging Southern belle. She is refined, delicate, and steeped in the traditions of Southern gentry. She first appears wearing white, symbolizing her feigned purity and virtuous nature. Blanche is one of Williams’s dreamers, forfeiting reality for a magical or romantic approach to life. She is not concerned with truth, but rather “what ought to be the truth.”

When she was a young woman, Blanche married her true love, Allan Grey. He was tender and sensitive, different from the other men in her life. Although he was not “the least bit effeminate looking,” she learned of his homosexuality when she entered a room uninvited and found Allan having sex with an older male friend. Later that night, the three of them attended a dance at Moon Lake Casino. During this evening of heavy drinking, Blanche confronted Allan about his sexuality while a polka played and lovers danced around them. Devastated by Blanche’s disgust toward him, Allan ran off the dance floor. He found refuge at the edge of the nearby lake, where he shot himself. Blanche is forever haunted by the guilt she feels over Allan’s suicide. She cannot move beyond the loss of her husband, and in moments of desperation she still hears the polka waltz in her mind. She drinks whiskey to cope with her self-reproach, but the cruelty she displayed toward Allan forever torments her.

Blanche’s life continues on a downward spiral with the deaths of several other family members. She is obligated to nurse them, witnessing the slow, torturous deterioration of life. Blanche is forced to earn her living as a high school English teacher because her ancestral home, Belle Reve (which means “beautiful dream” in French), in Laurel, Mississippi, is in danger of foreclosure. Severely lonely and desperate, she finds consolation in the embrace of strange men. When she is fired from her teaching position because of a “morally unfit” liaison with a 17-year-old boy, her reputation is completely ruined. Belle Reve is foreclosed and she is forced to live in a seedy hotel called the Flamingo. Because of her practice of entertaining men at the Flamingo, she is eventually forced to leave that establishment as well.

Destitute and homeless, Blanche travels to New Orleans, taking a “streetcar named Desire” to the slums of Elysian Fields, where her sister, Stella Kowalski, lives with her brutish husband, Stanley Kowalski. She arrives unannounced at the crampedtwo-room apartment. She immediately rejects Stanley because of his unrefined behavior and crude, straightforward response to life. Her worst opinions of Stanley are justified when she witnesses the beatings Stella suffers at the hands of her husband. Blanche believes that “a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion,” and she clashes with Stanley, who is determined to catch Blanche in all of her lies. Her facade quickly positions her as Stanley’s prime enemy. He is sickened by her exaggerations and false prudishness. Despite her past, Blanche remains married to the ideals of purity, creating the illusion of what she “ought to be.”

Stanley triumphs over her when he finds out about her promiscuous past in Laurel. He destroys her only chance of comfort by relating her sordid past to Mitch (Harold Mitchell), her only and final marriage prospect. Stanley then rapes Blanche, presuming that she has had so many sexual encounters that one more will make no difference. After this act, a deed that Stella refuses to acknowledge, Blanche is wounded once and for all. She loses her grip on reality and finds consolation in a type of magical world that will not allow her to hurt anymore. This world places her at the mercy of “the kindness of strangers.” The strange men in her life are replaced by the medical staff of a mental institution.

Hubbell, Eunice

Eunice is the wife of Steve Hubbell. She and Steve are the upstairs neighbors of Stanley and Stella Kowalski. As do Stanley and Stella, Eunice and Steve have a volatile marital relationship. In many ways, the older couple (Eunice and Steve) mirror Stanley and Stella and offer a vision of what the young couple will be in the future. Eunice is a confidante to Stella, and Eunice eases the younger woman’s transition into a life of denial and compromise. When Stella’s sister, Blanche DuBois, accuses Stanley of rape, Eunice instructs Stella to disavow Blanche’s claims for the sake of her marriage, her child, and her own sanity.

Hubbell, Steve

Steve is the husband of Eunice Hubbell. He and Eunice are the upstairs neighbors of Stanley and Stella Kowalski. As do Stanley and Stella, Eunice and Steve have a volatile marital relationship. In many ways, the older couple (Eunice and Steve) mirror Stanley and Stella and offer a vision of what the young couple will be in the future.

Kowalski, Stanley

He is a strong, brutish man of Polish descent. Stanley is a former soldier, who fought during World War II and who now lives in the mundane world of factory work. He is cruelly honest. His pastimes include bowling, drinking, playing poker with his friends and having sex with his wife, Stella Kowalski. Stanley enjoys the comforts of Stella’s love. Although he is unrefined, loud, and quick-tempered, he possesses a simplicity which makes him desirable to Stella. There is also an animal attraction between Stanley and Stella, and their relationship is based not on communication but on physical attraction. In the stage directions of Streetcar , Williams describes him as a “gaudy seed bearer [who] sizes women up at a glance.”

Stanley revels in the fact that Stella is from an old aristocratic Southern family and that she has rejected upper-crust society to live with him in a tenement house in the slums of New Orleans. Stanley functions with very basic objectives. He is strongwilled and responds to adversity with violence.

When his sister-in-law, Blanche DuBois, moves in, Stanley feels threatened by her presence and her rejection of his way of life. He does not like to share what is his: his wife, his liquor, and his apartment. When he finds out that the DuBois plantation, Belle Reve, has been foreclosed, he immediately demands proof that Blanche did not sell it and keep the money. Stanley expects to share any profits, as he is Stella’s husband. Stella and Blanche are personally devastated by the loss of their ancestral home; Stanley is only concerned with the practical, monetary side of the situation. He has no way of comprehending the emotional loss of such a thing. In addition, Blanche’s large personality leaves little room for him to be the center of attention. The two engage in a power struggle that draws out the worst in Stanley’s personality. The tension created by Blanche’s presence provokes Stanley to beat Stella and to seek a way to ruin his sister-in-law.

He triumphs over Blanche after searching for the truth of her disreputable past. When he has gathered this ammunition, he informs Blanche’s only marriage prospect, Mitch (Harold Mitchell)of her sordid past. By this he is able to pierce the virginal facade that Blanche has used to manipulate and control. Stella defends her sister by explaining that she has had a tragic past and she is weak, but Stanley is interested only in survival of the fittest. He rapes Blanche and denies that he did to Stella. This is Stanley’s ultimate triumph. In the end, Blanche is taken to a mental institution while Stanley comforts his wife by fondling her breasts.

Kowalski, Stella

She is the wife of Stanley Kowalski and the sister of Blanche DuBois. Stella is a member of a very refined and dignified Southern family, who has chosen to cast off her social status in exchange for marriage to Stanley, a vulgar and often brutal simpleton. She is caught in the war between Stanley and Blanche, whose constant bickering and fighting leads to Stanley’s sexually assaulting Blanche. Stella refuses to believe that her husband would rape her sister. After her accusations of rape, Stella commits Blanche to a mental institution. As does her sister, Stella glosses over harsh reality to live in the world of illusions to cope with Stanley’s abhorrent behavior.

Mitchell, Harold (Mitch)

A middle-aged man whose dedication to his ailing mother leaves him lonely and troubled. Mitch falls in love with Blanche Dubois, a refined, yet fading Southern belle. They engage in a respectable courtship, and Blanche insists on delaying sexual relations until they are married. When Stanley Kowalski informs Mitch of Blanche’s sordid past as a prostitute, he is shocked and offended that she has made him wait for sexual intimacy.

FURTHER READING Adler, Thomas P. A Streetcar Named Desire: The Moth and The Lantern. Boston: Twayne, 1990. Berkman, Leonard. “The Tragic Downfall of Blanche DuBois,” Modern Drama 10, no. 2 (December 1967): 249–257. Kazan, Elia. “Notebook for A Streetcar Named Desire,” in Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Streetcar Named Desire: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Jordan Y. Miller. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice- Hall, 1971, pp. 21–26. Shaw, Irwin. “Masterpiece,” in Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Streetcar Named Desire: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Jordan Y. Miller. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971, pp. 45–47. Sova, Dawn B. Forbidden Films: Censorship Histories of 125 Motion Pictures. New York: Facts On File, 2001.

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A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee williams, ask litcharts ai: the answer to your questions.

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

A Streetcar Named Desire: Introduction

A streetcar named desire: plot summary, a streetcar named desire: detailed summary & analysis, a streetcar named desire: themes, a streetcar named desire: quotes, a streetcar named desire: characters, a streetcar named desire: symbols, a streetcar named desire: theme wheel, brief biography of tennessee williams.

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Historical Context of A Streetcar Named Desire

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  • Full Title: A Streetcar Named Desire
  • When Written: 1946-7
  • Where Written: New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans
  • When Published: Broadway premiere December 3, 1947
  • Literary Period: Dramatic naturalism
  • Genre: Psychological drama
  • Setting: New Orleans, LA
  • Climax: Stanley’s rape of Blanche at the end of Scene Ten
  • Antagonist: Stanley Kowalski

Extra Credit for A Streetcar Named Desire

That Rattle-trap Streetcar Named Desire. The Desire streetcar line operated in New Orleans from 1920 to 1948, going through the French Quarter to its final stop on Desire Street.

Streetcar on the silver screen. The original 1947 Broadway production of Streetcar shot Marlon Brando, who played Stanley Kowalski, to stardom. Brando’s legendary performance cemented the actor’s status as a sex symbol of the stage and screen. Elia Kazan, who directed both the original Broadway production and the 1951 film adaptation, used the Stanislavski method-acting system, which focuses on realism and natural characters instead of melodrama. The Stanislavski system asks actors to use their memories to help give the characters real emotions. Brando based his depiction of Stanley on the boxer Rocky Graziano, going to his gym to study his movements and mannerisms. Largely due to Brando’s Stanley and Vivian Leigh’s iconic Blanche, Kazan’s film has become a cultural touchstone, particularly Brando’s famous bellowing of “STELL-LAHHHHH!”

Oh, Streetcar! In an episode of The Simpsons , the characters stage a musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire called Oh, Streetcar! Mild-mannered Ned Flanders as Stanley gives the famous “STELLA” yell, singing, “Can’t you hear me yell-a? You’re putting me through hell-a!”

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A Streetcar Named Desire - Stella, Marriage & Domestic Life.

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Luciana Machado

IB English - yr 2

Stella, Marriage & Domestic Life

New Orleans. Physical Abuse. Bestiality. Submission. In A Streetcar Named Desire , written by Tennessee Williams, the characters represent Williams' own view of society. Williams has created a medium to observe and reflect upon the darkest aspects of society and the result of these societal downfalls. One of the protagonists, Stella, is trapped in the patriarchal misogynistic values that dictate society having to deal with her marriage, and her new domestic life.

        In the character of Stella, the reader's primary reaction is to support and identify with her, but in reality she represents the type of person who has given up on the ideals she once knew and has, in a sense, joined forces with the “enemy”. She deserted Blanche at Belle Reve and has now settled for mediocrity – far away than that of stardom her name implies – in Stanley’s arms.

        She is of a clear higher status than of her husband Stanley, and there is a good example of it on the first scene, page , that while she is talking to him, Williams’ stage directions have placed Stella on the first floor while he is having to look up at her from the ground floor. He is the stereotypical male within society. He has an almost animalistic notion of a dominant male and this feature is hinted at as soon as the play begins, when Stanley is referred to as “…bestial…” His overall presidency and power are made clear right at the beginning of the text […She cries out in protest…Her husband and his companion have already started back around the corner.]           Instead he continues down the street like a boy with no responsibilities. Stella yells, “Where are you going,” and then asks if she could come to watch, he agrees but doesn’t stop to wait for her. This scene demonstrates how Stella follows Stanley along, and serves him according to what he wishes to do and when he wants to do it. He uses a coloquial vernacular and Stella, because of her aristocratic life in Belle Reve, the Beautiful Dream, would have continued with her sophisticated vocabulary if at least her brute husband would understand it.

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        Stella’s sister, Blanche arrives from Laurel in Scene 1, where all she does is criticize her sister for her new lifestyle. It has clearly been degraded, compared to their life in the Old South, as Blanche says “...that only Poe could do its justice.” Blanche is thinking that Stella has let go of her appearance because of her new domestic life and her submissiveness to her husband. Her character is juxtaposed to that of Stella as she arrives to the personified New Orleans urban setting ethereally dressed in white, with an almost celestial appearance. This clash represents much more of an anachronism than that of Stella, who has significantly adapted into Stanley’s world.

        The sister has barely arrived from Belle Reve and yet, seems to say everything on her mind. Blanche feels preplexed and a little embarrassed to see what her sister’s life has become because Stanley’s too “normal” (pg...) For instance, dramatic irony is present as Blanche mentions their rich estate while sitting in an inferior, undistinguished kitchen with a linoleum table. Another example of irony is while Blanche is suffering telling the tragic story of how Belle Reve was lost, she feels as if she needs to justify herself but at the same time, she accuses Stella of walking away from the plantation. Every aspect of her domestic life bothers Blanche including her overt sexuality.

                However, Stella’s enthusiasm for sex is unusual for the social period of the play and for social backgroud. Laurel, located in the South, was composed of plantations consisted of members of the aristocracy, their servants, and a poetic lifestyle heard only from books. Stanley represents the “new order” of the South, with his non-chivalric, muscular, babaraous, and troglodyte ways.  Their relationship is entirely based on carnal and corporeal pleasures whilst the clear definition for marriage is that of “being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a legal, consensual, and loving relationship.” Stanley acts towards Stella with a macho, primitive, dominant agression, while Stella does nothing but comply with his demands subserviently. Williams conveys this idea with the setting of their apartment composed of vivid primary colors, perfectly matching Stanley’s primal instincts.

        A final show of authority is his over powering presence within the poker games. Here he makes powerful statements, passing judgements on the symbolic game, and asserting dominance. “Nothing belongs on a poker table but cards, chips, and whisky.” It is he who sets such rules, allowing no other comment or opinion. Therefore, it is through using techniques such as dialogue, stage directions, foreshadow, and character, that Tennessee Williams foregrounds society’s attitudes to masculinity within the text. “You hens cut out that conversation in there!” Stanley shouts from the poker table. As Blanche turns on the radio, a waltz is playing, symbolizing a sentimental expression of love for old-time Vienna.. The song conjures up images of elegance and splendor that contrast with the run-down apartment Stella lives in. After Stanley’s demands were not obeyed, in a savage rage attack, he loses his nerves and beats his pregnant wife. The dramatic tension increases as Stella is ushered by Blanche to Eunice’s apartment, and Stanley can do nothing but sob in a childish manner. This is the first time he shows a little more than physical attraction towards her, but yet, the patriarchal symbol rule the scene as Stella, obediently goes back to him. They face each other, and with absolutely no contact at all they fall in an embrace as “low, animal moans” are heard. This raw attraction is the pillar for their marriage, which consists of a vicious cycle of agression, sorrow, apology, forgiveness, and passion.

        Just as a character is provided to represent the stereotypical male, one is also provided as a representation of femininity. Stella fulfils society’s preconceptions of femininity perfectly, though from today’s perspective they may be considered as misconceptions. Her character is absolutely passive and has a largely domestic role. From her first appearance in the play, she is found indoors, and remains in this setting for a substantial amount of the text. She is also disempowered through the language of other characters. She is rarely called by her name, and is instead referred to as “…honey…”, “…baby…”, or “…little woman…” This lack of individual identity is one of the hallmarks of feminine power play within contemporary society. Women were degraded to mere tags, and never allowed their own personage. In spite of that, she needs her man by her side to guide her. Her slight actions of frustration, yet non-violent situation also demonstrate her passivity. She laughs girlishly and uncertainly, her voice is weary and her face is anxious. When someone interrupts her, she allows this because everyone deserves a chance to speak. Stella does not enjoy being hit by Stanley, for she is not masochistic, but in the back of her mind she knows she could not subsist if she got any idea to leave Stanley

         A Streetcar Named Desire  by Tennessee Williams brings to light many of the truths as to society’s attitudes towards men and women. A range of dramatic techniques, such as dialogue, stage directions, gaps and silences, setting, catalogue, foreshadow, symbolism, irony, and character, are employed in order to shape understandings of gender stereotypes. The playwright explores both male and female stereotypes as well as society’s reaction to those who challenge these preconceptions, or indeed misconceptions as the case may be. By representing these truths to the masses which view this striking play, Tennessee Williams poses a question to society, as to whether or not these representations are accurate. May audiences only hope to respond to this question in the next century.

A Streetcar Named Desire - Stella, Marriage & Domestic Life.

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Blanche in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Williams Essay

Introduction, in what sense is or is not blanche a liar, how might an actress indicate whether or not blanche really knows the truth, works cited.

Tennessee Williams’ play titled ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ has been termed as a landmark play by many literary scholars. It is one of his masterpieces, which won him many awards, including the coveted Pulitzer Prize in 1948. It is a perfect presentation of the two major characters Blanche DuBois whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly cover her alcoholism and illusions of greatness, and Stanley Kowalski, who is primitive, rough, and physically as well as emotionally abusive to his wife and Blanche (Skiba 5; Skiba 6). The play deals perfectly with a case of culture clash between these two major characters. The purpose of this essay is to answer the following important questions.

Blanche is a liar in two major senses. First and foremost, she is a liar to herself. She is a liar to herself because instead of accepting the reality of her unsuccessful love and marriage life, she withdrew into a world in which fantasies and disillusions blend impeccably with reality (Skiba 6). After a short marriage spoilt by her finding out that her husband, Allan Grey, was having a homosexual affair, she is not able to accept and face that reality so that she can overcome the pain and frustrations that came with those revelations about her husband’s double life and the unfortunate death that followed (Skiba 5).

Instead, she puts on a composure, which is essentially an illusion she uses to shield herself and others in her life from her reality. She lies to herself that everything is alright and sets out to continue with her life without accepting that her life would never be the same again. This approach to tragedies and fate in her life sees her withdrawing into living a lie about her past (Skiba 5).

Secondly, Blanche is a liar to others. At the very beginning, when she arrived at her sister’s place in New Orleans, she lied to her that her supervisor had allowed her some days off her work as an English teacher because of an alleged nervous breakdown, when in fact, she had been dismissed summarily because of having an intimate affair with a seventeen years old student (Skiba 4).

In scene two, Stanley is suspicious that Blanche had lied to them about the loss of their family’s plantation in Southern Belle, where she had opted to live while taking care of the dying members of their family. Stanley and Blanche’s difficult relationship worsens when he finds out some old love-letters, which brings to light Blanche’s young marriage to a boy who ultimately died (Skiba 4). More about her hitherto unknown indecent past is learned through Stanley’s co-worker, who regularly traveled to Laurel, Blanche’s old hometown (Skiba 5).

In short, even though Blanche entrusted some information about her fallen marriage to Mitch and later accepted what was said about her indecent past when Mitch confronted her, she did it at the wrong time and in a desperate attempt to win Mitch’s heart for marriage and physical affection which she was evidently starved off (Skiba 5).

An actress can point to whether Blanche knows the truth by vividly bringing out the situations and circumstances when she entrusts true information about her unsuccessful marriage to Mitch, to who she was sincerely attracted. Acting perfectly, Blanche’s motives and emotions behind her revelations regarding a part of her past to Mitch can point to how she understood the truth and its value. Also, an actress can indicate whether Blanche knew the truth by acting perfectly an illusionist that Blanche was by portraying well her vain personality, which is evident throughout the play, as well as bringing out her perfect reaction to Mitch when he confronted her with reliable information about her indecent past (Skiba 6; Skiba 5).

Skiba, Melanie. The Character of Blanche DuBois in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. München, Deutschland: GRIN Verlag, 2009. pp. 4- 10. Print.

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A Streetcar Named Desire It is a rare occasion in the world of cinema that an author plays a part in his story's translation to film. One of the few given this opportunity was Tennessee Williams. In Elia Kazan's 1951 "big screen" adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, Williams penned not only the...

Discuss the various ways the confidant or confidante functions in one of the following works. In the play, A Streetcar named Desire, Tennessee Williams depicts a conflict through his main character, Blanche Dubois. Blanche has a problem in believing that she is in a fantasy world. In this play one...

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Critique of the movie ? A Streetcar Named Desire' A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) was a play by Tennessee Williams who also wrote the play The Glass Menagerie. It was a film of anger, loneliness, and shame. Every actor in the film made his or her own brilliant performance. The director was Elia...

‘A Streetcar named Desire,’ is an interesting play, by Tennessee Williams. The character 'Blanche DuBois' is created to evoke sympathy, as the story follows her tragic deterioration in the months she lived with her sister Stella, and brother-in-law Stanley. After reading the...

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An analysis of some of the many symbols found in "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams, with the help of psychoanalytical theory. Williams' expert use of these symbols helped him to convey the meaning of many characteristics of the protagonists in the play. Was Tennessee Williams a...

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Within the play Streetcar Named Desire written by Tennessee Williams, the lives and relationship of Blanche DuBois and Stella Kowalski are plotted out in a scene of events that depicts astute betrayal and out of the ordinary family matters. Based on the time period of this play, that being of the...

1 341 words

STANLEY. Hey, there! Stella, Baby! [Stella comes out on the first floor landing, a gentle young woman about twenty-five, and of a background obviously quite different from her husband’s. ] (13) This is the opening line from A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennesee Williams, one of many differences in...

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Explore how Williams builds up to the inevitable rape of Blanche in Scene 10. Consider his use of setting, character and stage directions in your answer. Old and new, weak and aggressive, intellect and brute force: Blanche and Stanley. The battle between old and new America in the 1940’s was in...

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In Tennessee Williams' play, A Streetcar Named Desire, there are many examples where the characters are using illusions in an attempt to escape reality. The best example is found by looking to the main character. Blanche Dubois was a troubled woman who throughout the play lives her life in...

1 233 words


Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Plays — A Streetcar Named Desire

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Essays on A Streetcar Named Desire

Choosing the right essay topic is crucial for your success in college. Your creativity and personal interests play a significant role in the selection process. This webpage aims to provide you with a variety of A Streetcar Named Desire essay topics to inspire your writing and help you excel in your academic pursuits.

Essay Types and Topics


  • The role of gender in A Streetcar Named Desire
  • The impact of societal norms on the characters' behaviors

Paragraph Example:

In Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, the portrayal of gender dynamics is a central theme that sheds light on the power struggles and societal expectations faced by the characters. This essay aims to explore the significance of gender in the play and its influence on the characters' decisions and relationships.

Through a close examination of the gender dynamics in A Streetcar Named Desire, this essay has highlighted the complexities of societal norms and their impact on individual lives. The characters' struggles serve as a reflection of the broader societal challenges, prompting us to reconsider our perceptions of gender roles and expectations.

Compare and Contrast

  • The parallels between Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski
  • The contrasting symbols of light and darkness in the play


  • The vivid imagery of New Orleans in the play
  • The sensory experiences portrayed in A Streetcar Named Desire
  • An argument for Blanche's mental state and its impact on her actions
  • The case for the significance of the play's setting in shaping the characters
  • Reimagining a key scene from a different character's perspective
  • A personal reflection on the themes of illusion and reality in the play

Engagement and Creativity

As you explore these essay topics, remember to engage your critical thinking skills and bring your unique perspective to your writing. A Streetcar Named Desire offers a rich tapestry of themes and characters, providing ample opportunities for creative exploration in your essays.

Educational Value

Each essay type presents a valuable opportunity for you to develop different skills. Argumentative essays can refine your analytical thinking, while descriptive essays can enhance your ability to paint vivid pictures with words. Persuasive essays help you hone your persuasive writing skills, and narrative essays allow you to practice storytelling and narrative techniques.

Reality Versus Illusion in The Streetcar Named Desire

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How Blanche and Stella Rely on Self-delusion in a Streetcar Named Desire

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An Examination of The Character of Blanche in a Streetcar Named Desire

The flaws of blanche and why she ultimately failed, analysis of stanley kowalski’s role in tennessee williams’ book, a streetcar named desire, analysis of blanche and stella relationship in a streetcar named desire, get a personalized essay in under 3 hours.

Expert-written essays crafted with your exact needs in mind

The Concealed Homosexuality in a Streetcar Named Desire

Oppression, its brutality and its inescapability, is a dominant theme in literature, similar themes in a streetcar named desire by tennessee williams and water by robery lowell, first impression lies: the power and masculinity exuded by stanley kolawski, determining the tragedy potential in a streetcar named desire, how tennessee williams is influenced by the work of chekhov, the use of suspense in a streetcar named desire, a streetcar named desire by tennessee williams: personal identity of blanche, the portrayals of sexuality in cat on a hot tin roof and a streetcar named desire, evaluation of the social class ranking as illustrated in the book, a streetcar named desire, blanche and mitch relationship in a streetcar named desire, female powerlessness in the duchess of malfi and a streetcar named desire, a comparison between the plastic theatre and expressionism in a streetcar named desire, morality and immorality in a streetcar named desire and the picture of dorian gray, oppositions and their purpose in "a streetcar named desire" and "the birthday party", how femininity and masculinity are presented in ariel and a streetcar named desire, tennessee williams’ depiction of blanche as a casualty as illustrated in his play, a streetcar named desire, history defined the themes of a streetcar named desire, comparing social and ethnic tensions in a streetcar named desire and blues for mister charlie, the use of contrast as a literary device at the beginning of a streetcar named desire.

December 3, 1947, Tennessee Williams

Play; Southern Gothic

The French Quarter and Downtown New Orleans

Blanche DuBois, Stella Kowalski, Stanley Kowalski, Harold "Mitch" Mitchell

1. Vlasopolos, A. (1986). Authorizing History: Victimization in" A Streetcar Named Desire". Theatre Journal, 38(3), 322-338. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/3208047) 2. Corrigan, M. A. (1976). Realism and Theatricalism in A Streetcar Named Desire. Modern Drama, 19(4), 385-396. (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/50/article/497088/summary) 3. Quirino, L. (1983). The Cards Indicate a Voyage on'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Contemporary Literary Criticism, 30. (https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CH1100001571&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=00913421&p=LitRC&sw=w&userGroupName=anon%7E8abc495e) 4. Corrigan, M. A. (2019). Realism and Theatricalism in A Streetcar Named Desire. In Essays on Modern American Drama (pp. 27-38). University of Toronto Press. (https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.3138/9781487577803-004/html?lang=de) 5. Van Duyvenbode, R. (2001). Darkness Made Visible: Miscegenation, Masquerade and the Signified Racial Other in Tennessee Williams' Baby Doll and A Streetcar Named Desire. Journal of American Studies, 35(2), 203-215. (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-american-studies/article/abs/darkness-made-visible-miscegenation-masquerade-and-the-signified-racial-other-in-tennessee-williams-baby-doll-and-a-streetcar-named-desire/B73C386D2422793FB8DC00E0B79B7331) 6. Cahir, L. C. (1994). The Artful Rerouting of A Streetcar Named Desire. Literature/Film Quarterly, 22(2), 72. (https://www.proquest.com/openview/7040761d75f7fd8f9bf37a2f719a28a4/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=5938) 7. Silvio, J. R. (2002). A Streetcar Named Desire—Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, 30(1), 135-144. (https://guilfordjournals.com/doi/abs/10.1521/jaap. 8. Griffies, W. S. (2007). A streetcar named desire and tennessee Williams' object‐relational conflicts. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 4(2), 110-127. (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/aps.127) 9. Shackelford, D. (2000). Is There a Gay Man in This Text?: Subverting the Closet in A Streetcar Named Desire. In Literature and Homosexuality (pp. 135-159). Brill. (https://brill.com/display/book/9789004483460/B9789004483460_s010.xml)

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marriage in a streetcar named desire essay

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A Streetcar Named Desire

Explore the way in which marriage is presented in both ‘the great gatsby’ and ‘a streetcar named desire’ summer jade dolan 11th grade.

Within ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams, and ‘The Great Gatsby’ by Scott Fitzgerald, marriage is debated, and potentially condemned, in three different fashions. Interestingly despite the two pieces being written and based twenty years apart, these three topics can be easily identified in both; what marriage means for women in a patriarchal society, the importance/ lack of importance of sex within married life, and the potential of marriage as a financial agreement. In both texts, the prospects for unmarried females are presented as grim. In A Streetcar Named Desire this is achieved through the comparison of Blanche, (Unmarried), and Stella, (Married). Here, in addition to their evidently differing mental states, Williams presents the sisters’ comparative expectations through their names, with Blanche Dubois translating as ‘White Woods’ in French. This illustrates connotations of purity, virginity, etc. which despite a lack of either, Blanche obsesses over conveying, supported through her consistent linking with the colour white, and her ‘purification rituals‘ through bathing. Additionally, ‘white’ has connotations of nothingness, emptiness, etc. In contrast, Stella, translating as ‘star’, has associations of...

GradeSaver provides access to 2312 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 10989 literature essays, 2751 sample college application essays, 911 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

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marriage in a streetcar named desire essay


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