Thursday, October 24, 2019

A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams :: A Streetcar Named Desire Essays

Set in the French Quarter of New Orleans during the restless years following World War Two, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE is the story of Blanche DuBois, a fragile and neurotic woman on a desperate prowl for someplace in the world to call her own. After being exiled from her hometown of Laurel, Mississippi for seducing a seventeen-year-old boy at the school where she taught English, Blanche explains her unexpected appearance on Stanley and Stella's (Blanche's sister) doorstep as nervous exhaustion. This, she claims, is the result of a series of financial calamities which have recently claimed the family plantation, Belle Reve. Suspicious, Stanley points out that "under Louisiana's Napoleonic code what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband." Stanley, a sinewy and brutish man, is as territorial as a panther. He tells Blanche he doesn't like to be swindled and demands to see the bill of sale. This encounter defines Stanley and Blanche's relationship. They are opposing camps and Stella i s caught in no-man's-land. But Stanley and Stella are deeply in love. Blanche's efforts to impose herself between them only enrages the animal inside Stanley. When Mitch -- a card-playing buddy of Stanley's -- arrives on the scene, Blanche begins to see a way out of her predicament. Mitch, himself alone in the world, reveres Blanche as a beautiful and refined woman. Yet, as rumors of Blanche's past in Laurel begin to catch up to her, her circumstances become unbearable. Characters: Blanche Dubois: Blanche Dubois is the older sister of Stella Kowalski who visits them in New Orleans and stays throughout the summer. She was a schoolteacher of English in Mississippi and presents herself as very prim, proper, and prudent. Her name is French and she says, 'It [Dubois] means woods and Blanche means white, so the two together mean white woods. Like an orchard in spring!' (Act III, pg. 177). She was married to a young man named Allan, who committed suicide when she was very young. She drinks and smokes and tells lies. She suffers from continual delusions of hearing polka tunes and gunshots. Stella loves her dearly, but Stanley is in direct opposition to her false appearance and selfish attitude. Blanche cannot be around direct light and is overly concerned with her appearance, accessories, bathing, and age. She has a brief romance with Mitch and is later committed to a mental institution. Stanley Kowalski: Stanley is Stella's strong and good-looking husband.

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