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Stella and Blanche in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire

Stella and Blanche in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire

The two important female characters in the “poetic tragedy”(Adler 12), A Streetcar Named Desire, are Stella and Blanche. The most obvious comparison between Stella and Blanche is that they are sisters, but this blood relationship suggests other similarities between the two women. They are both part of the final generation of a once aristocratic but now moribund family. Both manifest a great deal of culture and sensitivity, and because of this, both seem out of place in Elysian Fields. “Beauty is shipwrecked on the rock of the world’s vulgarity” (Miller 45). Blanche, of course, is much more of an anachronism than Stella, who has for the most part adapted to the environment of Stanley Kowalski. Finally, both Stella and Blanche are or have been married. It is in their respective marriages that we can begin to trace the profound differences between these two sisters.

Where Blanche’s marriage, to a man whom she dearly loved (Miller 43), proved catastrophic to her, Stella’s marriage seems to be fulfilling her…

Decline of Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire

The Unnecessary Decline of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire

Upon reviewing the drama, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, it would appear that the character of Blanche DuBois is worthy of closer inspection. With her previous occupation as a teacher of American literature and her former social status being that of a well-bred woman of the very traditional Old South, Blanche could be any human being transferring from one culture to another with customs far different from the ones being left behind. Even today it could happen that someone is suddenly confronted with a totally new and different value system with which he must learn to cope in order to be accepted into his new environment. That is the situation in which Blanche finds herself. After close inspection of the plot of A Streetcar Named Desire, it appears that the course of the play could quite easily have been turned from decline and tragedy to rescue and triumph for Blanche DuBois with only a few minor adjustments.

A streetcar named Desire brought Blanche to the last station of her decline. “Blanche’s spine or leitmotif is `find Protection’; the tradition of the Old South says that it must be through another person… her problem has to do with her tradition… the thing about the tradition in the 19th century was that it worked then “(Donahue 30). But today Blanche can’t feel safe within the bounds of the Old South traditions anymore. On the contrary “…it [tradition] makes Blanche feel alone, outside of her society. Left out, insecure, shaky” (Donahue 32).

In the exposition of the play, Blanche arrives in her new environment and does not feel the least bit comfortable when she sees how her sister lives. Blanche p…

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…n mind and body because a community is only as strong as its weakest link. Williams knew this and had a great desire to help those less fortunate than he. He tried to do this through his works, by calling attention to the problems that many people faced on a daily basis, thereby forcing his audiences to choose to either ignore the problems or to do something to bring about change.

Works Cited

Bloom, Herald (ed.). Tennessee Williams. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.

Donahue, Francis. The Dramatic World of Tennessee Williams. New York: Frederic Ungar Publishing Co., 1964.

Hirsch, Foster. A Portrait of the Artist-The Plays of Tennessee Williams. London: Kennikat Press, 1979.

Londre, F.H. Tennessee Williams. New York: Frederic Ungar Publishing Co., 1979.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. Stuttgart: Phillip Reclam, 1988.

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