1.1 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 is caught in no-man's-land. But Stanley and Stella are deeply in love.
Blanche's efforts to im
2 Key Quotes:
2.1 They told me to take a
street-car named Desire,
and transfer to one called
Cemeteries, and ride six
blocks and get off
2.2 Whoever you are—I have
always depended on the
kindness of strangers.
2.3 “After the death of Allan – the intimacies
with strangers was all I seemed to be able
to fill my empty head with… I think it was
panic, just panic, that drove me from one
to another, hunting for some protection …”
3 Types of Love:
3.1.1 Despite Stella's frustration at her sister's response to Stanley, she allows her to live her fantasy.
3.1.2 Stella feels remorse for sending Blanche to the asylum showing that she does love her.
3.2.1 Lust is an underlying theme within the entire text, and it is reinforced by the animalistic undertones throughout.
4.1 Magical Realism, which is a generally realistic setting with some odd fantasy thrown in. In this case,
the fantasy enters the picture when the audience gets to see and hear some of Blanche’s imagined
horrors: shadows on the wall, the eerie polka music overhead, the sounds of echoing voices.
4.2 It is also Psychological Realism for these same reasons: at times it portrays reality as it exists in the
mind, not as it exists objectively.
4.3 Lastly there’s Social Realism, because of the play’s frank treatment of issues like immigration, class,
gender roles, and power plays between women and men.
5.1 Streetcar is a great portrait of social issues in New Orleans in the 1940s. It highlights the
difference considered by race in the South in comparison to New Orleans, where it was not
considered a huge issue.
6.1 1951 - Eliza Kazan
6.2 1984 - John Erman
6.3 1995 - Glen Jordan
7 Links to other texts:
7.1.1 The Taming of The
Shrew - Shakespeare
188.8.131.52 Katherina , unlike Stella
or Blanche, doesn't want
to rely on any men.
7.1.2 Top Girls - Caryl Churchill (1982)
184.108.40.206 Top Girls describes the growth of
feminism in society, and the concept of
the working woman. Unlike Stella,
Marlene is able to work on her own and
doesn't rely on any men.
7.2.1 A Doll's House
220.127.116.11 The shared use of animalistic
imagery and reference to
patriarchal society. E.g "Is that my
little squirrel bustling around in
7.2.2 The Taming of
The Shrew -
8.1 Plastic Theatre
8.1.1 The Varsouviana Polka
18.104.22.168 This is the polka tune which often reminds Blanche of the last day she spent with her young
husband – Allen Grey. Earlier that day, she caught her husband’s adultery with another man, and yet
pretended that ‘nothing had happened’. In the middle of the Varsouviana when Blanche told Allen of
how he ‘disgusted’ her, he committed suicide. The polka music often arouses a sense of loss and
regret for Blanche.
8.1.2 Blue piano
22.214.171.124 The blues music enhances the dreamlike feeling in the play. The Blue piano represents ‘the spirit of
life’ in the setting. This is prominent in the first scene when Blanche recalls the unfortunate
fate of Belle Reve, and in the 5th scene when she kisses the Young Man. The blue piano is the loudest
when Blanche is sent away to the asylum in the last scene.
126.96.36.199 Stanley is associated with the power sounds of locomotives- modern, impressive, and raw. The start
of the last phase of the movement towards the rape in Scene 10, the locomotive sound grows louder.
The locomotives represent Stanley, who brings Blanche’s downfall by unmasking her truth. Hence, in
every scene where the truth of Blanche is revealed through Stanley, the locomotive sound is
dominant. It sound may also be seen as a symbol of Blanche’s desire to escape.
8.1.4 “It’s only paper moon!”
188.8.131.52 This song is prominent in the 7th scene, when Stanley learns of Blanche’s promiscuity. The louder
Stanley insists on the undeniable facts about Blanche, the louder she sings. The song’s lyrics describe
the way love turns the world into a “phony” fantasy. The song says that if both lovers believe in their
imagined reality, then it’s no longer “make-believe.” These lyrics sum up Blanche’s approach to life.
She believes that her lying is harmless, as she tries to weave harmony with her lies. However,
Blanche is just a sham who pretends sexual innocence.
184.108.40.206 Light represents truth, which Stella wishes to avoid by putting an artificial lantern on the light bulb.
Stella is never in daylight, as she doesn’t wish her lies to be revealed. When Blanche and Stanley fight
in Scene 10, oddly shaped shadows appear on the walls. The jungle cries enhance the sense of
madness of Blanche. These effects combine to heighten Blanche’s final breakdown.
8.2.1 Animalistic Imagery
9.1 Race relations weren’t "easy" everywhere
in the 1940s, but it’s important to establish
the atmosphere in this particular setting,
especially since Blanche brings to the
Kowalski apartment her prejudices, which
prove to be out of time and place. Class
distinctions don’t matter here, which is
why Stella and Stanley seem to make a
fine match despite their backgrounds.