The play Streetcar Desire by Tennessee Williams, an entire Broadway production of the late 40s, has become a modern classic. Streetcar Desire is a multi-layered picture, and there is much more psychology here than plot collisions: almost all the action takes place within one house in New Orleans. Working people, primarily descendants of immigrants, live in this house; they drink, fight and cry here every night, but then they make up and go on building their lives every morning. Here, Blanche comes, in a lace dress, with exquisitely strange manners, to her younger sister, happily living with a superficial guy Stanley. He is a typical alpha male, simple, unsophisticated, and rude. Although it seems that Blanche’s psychology has already been formed, her sister’s marriage has a negative impact, and Blanche falls into insanity.
Description of the Main Characters
Blanche Dubois is an intelligent, attractive woman who has reached the age she began to realize that she is getting old. A family catastrophe connected with the fact that her husband turned out to be a homosexual and committed suicide because of exposure led to the fact that she became lonely and no longer needed by anyone. Brilliant education and manners did not save from poverty (Williams 6). She was always under someone’s cover, worked as a teacher, and did not know how harsh real life could be. She began to drink a lot of alcohol and conduct promiscuous sexual relations with many men. She even had an affair with a student, which led to the girl being forced to leave her hometown.
Blanche lost the family estate, which was also one of the reasons why she decided to visit her sister. She aspired to a better life and did not understand that this would never happen again. Also, the girl is alien to the vulgarity and rudeness of her sister’s husband, Stanley Kowalski. She does not want to admit that the real world is not what she imagined it to be, but cold and harsh.
From the very beginning, Stanley Kowalski is shown to readers as a rude, cruel man, an ordinary hard worker. He rapes Blanche as soon as his sister gets into the maternity ward and realizes that nothing will happen to him for this (Williams 150). He is deeply offended that Blanche did not appreciate the choice of her sister’s life partner. He enjoys his revenge and shows actual rudeness, selfishness, and meanness.
Stella is the most seasoned and patient heroine of the work. She admits the evil behavior of her husband, Stanley, which sometimes leads to the fact that he allows himself to raise his hand against his wife. Stella does not seek to change anything in her life but lives her life within the walls of a dirty tiny apartment. She is satisfied with her husband’s cruelty, and she is not able to change something due to her unformed soft, and indifferent nature. Even the case of the death of her sister does not change anything in her outlook and perception of her own life.
The Construction, Development and Evolution of the Psyche
Stanley was angry at Blanche for not being able to keep the family estate and also showed herself to be an arrogant and narcissistic woman. She is radically different because of her internal problems; she is an outcast, whom it is customary to poison in society, as it was in the caving community (Mandelbaum 176). With her shaken soul, the broken and ridiculous Blanche desperately asks for help from people, she screams for her, begs, and these pleas remain unheard and not understood. In her loneliness, she is looking for at least a semblance of love, compassion, or even pity and is ready to trust the first person she meets.
Having failed to arrange her fate, having squandered her parents’ inheritance, and settled with her poor relatives, living at their own expense, the romantic dreamer Blanche allows herself to teach Stella and regularly insult Stanley. The man did not let himself be offended and destroyed Blanche’s developing relationship with potential fiancé Mitch (Gontarski 85). And a little later, while his wife was in the hospital, this primitive representative of the strong half of humanity raped Blanche, which later led to the girl being sent to a mental hospital. “What such a man has to offer is animal force and he gave a wonderful exhibition of that!” (Williams 86). Blanche’s desire and idealism, which did not let her go even after the painful loss of her dream, strangely combined and mixed in the heroine’s mind, leading her to troubles and death. Blanche’s imaginary world was easily defeated by brute material force. And weak-willed and dependent, Stella chose not to believe her sister and chose her husband’s side for her convenience.
Blanche is one of those natures who lives in her world, not realizing that there are compromises, concessions, and sacrifices for the sake of others. She is in the clouds, trying to convince her sister that Stanley Kowalski is not the man with whom you can build a family life. Together with the romantic spirit, it carries the energy of destruction, which is emphasized by addiction to alcohol (Williams 14). Everyone can be blamed for this tragedy: Stanley Kowalski – for the harassment of Blanche and the attitude toward Stella, Blanche – for constant cheating and drunkenness. Mitch – for a momentary weakness and Stella – for the play’s final scene in which she fully supports her husband and then gets away from him.
The family dynamic that has impacted the character’s psyche is that Stanley does not accept Blanche. Her worldview, actions, actions, and arrogance are alien to him, and it is the totality of these characteristics of the girl leads to dislike on the part of her sister’s husband. Stella, in turn, values both her husband and sister, which puts her in a difficult position. Nevertheless, in the outcome of the play, Stella chooses in favor of her husband, but this decision makes her suffer and suffer. She probably chooses Stanley’s side because she does not know how she can raise her newborn baby alone. At the end of the play, Stella leaves Stanley, although the probability that she will return to him later remains at the reader’s discretion.
In conclusion, the play by Tennessee Williams is multifaceted and vital because it talks about a simple human life without embellishment, such as it is for many people and families around the world to this day. It reveals men and women from different sides, attitudes, and views; it reveals behavioral motives, how to relate to a particular situation, and how to perceive the consequences of words, actions, and decisions. The play shows the problems of the psychology of a broken person who strives for his dream, and in the end, everything is destroyed to the very bottom.
Gontarski, Stanley. “Tennessee Williams’s Creative Frisson, Censorship, and the Queering of Theatre.” New Theatre Quarterly, vol. 37, no. 1, 2021, pp. 82-99.
Mandelbaum, George. “Two Psychotic Playwrights at Work: the Late Plays of August Strindberg and Tennessee Williams.” The Psychoanalytic Quarterly, vol. 86, no. 1, 2017, pp. 149-182.
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. A New Direction Book, 1947.