A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Blanche Dubois, the protagonist in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire play seeks to reside with Stella Kowalski, her sister, but Stanley Kowalski, Stella’s husband, is against the idea. Blanche used to live at her parent’s home in Mississippi’s Laurel area but the mansion has been foreclosed due to an unpaid mortgage. She thus desperately seeks shelter at her New Orleans sister’s home.
Blanche’s disdainful and contemptuous attitude however makes Stanley oppose the idea of hosting her from the very beginning. For example, although Blanche is currently a hopeless destitute, she looks at Stanley’s modest home with utter scorn (Williams 6).
Blanche’s delusional class considerations prevent her from acknowledging that she is at the moment at the mercy of the Kowalski’s. She thus demonstrates derision towards the Kowalski house that makes Stanley to immediately dislike her. Blanche’s ridiculously fantastic reasoning even makes her try to convince Stella to leave Stanley.
Blanche holds that Stanley is that Stella is of a higher social status than Stanley. This is clearly a preposterous argument based on the existing facts (Jerz 35). If at all there are suitable men who can rescue Stella from Stanley, then it beats sense to imagine that Blanche has come to seek shelter at Stella’s place.
Blanche should have in fact gone to one of those high-class men and thus avoid becoming the desperate destitute she currently is. Williams thus uses Blanche to illustrate the frustration that a blind loyalty to class and social distinctions causes to people.
To begin with, Stanley’s justified hatred for Blanche makes Blanche’s life become increasingly hard. As an illustration, Stanley hosts a poker game tournament whereby a number of his colleagues come to play. It then occurs that Mitch, one of Stanley’s friend’s becomes smitten by Blanche and the two begin an affair. Stanley does not however want any of his friends to be associated in any way with Blanche.
To demonstrate his utter disgust towards Blanche, Stanley violently disrupts a rendezvous that Mitch is having with Blanche in Stanley’s bedroom. Stanley even offers Blanche a bus ticket to Mississippi to demonstrate that she is essentially unwelcome in his house. To make matters worse, Stanley investigates Blanche’s past life, which is ugly, and relates all the details to Mitch.
This situation makes Mitch to tell Blanche to her face that he cannot marry her. Blanche’s contemptuousness has thus led to her losing a promising marriage mate who would potentially rescue her from her financial quagmire (Clum 126).
Afterwards, a clearly deluded Blanche boastfully tells Stanley that she is soon leaving the Kowalski residence with a millionaire boyfriend named Shep Huntleigh. Since Stella is just about to have a baby, Stanley briefly puts aside his disdain for Blanche and suggests that the two have a party. Blanche however brushes rudely aside Stanley’s suggestion. This dev elopement causes tension between Blanche and Stanley (Griffies 120). In the ensuing events, Stanley rapes Blanche.
This rape ordeal is significant because it mainly results from Blanche’s contemptuous character. Had she agreed to engage in merrymaking with Stanley instead of showing disrespect to him, Stanley would not likely have raped her. A new twist is introduced to the play because Blanche cannot convince anyone that Stanley actually raped her. It is implausible how someone can rape someone whom they hate as Stanley detests Blanche. It is thus assumed that Blanche has gone mad and that she should be confined in an asylum for mad persons.
Again, Blanche’s disdainful attitude is causing her problems because not body is giving her any attention regarding her raping by Stanley. Stella is at the forefront in arranging fir Blanche to be whisked away. The presumably man girl is thus taken away to an asylum. Williams has thus shown that wishful thinking and cosmetic class distinctions usually have disastrous results.
In addition, through the play, Williams presents three important social lessons. Firstly, he demonstrates that artificial class distinctions that make different-class people not interact are improper.
This is because Stella’s marriage to Stanley seems to go on smoothly despite the fact that the two are of quire varied social classes. Stanley is of a lower class than Stella. The couple however has a fairly uneventful marriage life with the exception of the incidence when Stanley hits Stella mainly due to Blanche’s influence.
Secondly, Williams seeks to urge people against adopting an escapist stance of entertaining ridiculous thoughts so as to mentally escape from reality. Blanche is a perfect illustration of this concept. Her wild illusions prevents her from accepting that she is indeed needy and has to put up with any situation that comes her way. She thus offends Stanley, an aspect that leads to her sad demise. Stanley is angry that Blanche disdainfully looks down upon his lowly status.
Moreover, Williams seeks to inform readers that real love knows no bounds through Stella and Stanley’s marriage. Stella truly loves Stanley despite the fact that the couple is of humble means. Even after she is beaten, Stella warmly embraces Stanley. Stanley also loves Stella as is evident from the loving embrace he gives his wife at the end of the play (Timm 154).
Clum, John M. Still Acting Gay: Male Homosexuality in Modern Drama. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000.
Griffies, W. Scott. “A Streetcar Named Desire and Tennessee Williams’ Object-Relational Conflicts.” International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies 4. 2 (2006): 110-27.
Jerz, Dennis G. Technology in American Drama, 1920-1950: Soul and Society in the Age of the Machine. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003.
Timm, Larry M. The Soul of Cinema: An Appreciation of Film Music. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, USA: Prentice Hall, 2003.
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. Jordan Hill, Oxford, UK: Heinemann Education Publishers, 1995.