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“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams, is the author of the play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire,’ which was produced on Broadway in the year 1947. The play won many awards and was adapted to a film in 1951. The theme of the play is the decaying South and its arrogance, inability to accept truth and its consequences and uncontrolled sexual desire leading to self-destruction. Most of William’s works were influenced by his real life experiences.

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This play is not any different. Alcoholism, depression, insanity and desire are included in the play. The play is basically about a woman named Blanche, who comes and stays with her sister Stella and her husband Stanley. Blanche is presented as a proud Southerner at the beginning of the play and dislikes Stanley, who becomes suspicious about Blanche’s past. Her husband committed suicide after she found out that he was a homosexual. Later on, she was thrown out of the school where she was a teacher because she tried to seduce one of the students. Stanley finds out her disgraceful past and informs her lover Mitch, who leaves her. One day, Stanley rapes her and she becomes completely abnormal. At the end, Stanley arranges to take her to a mental hospital.

Describe the difference between the book and the film

Ans:1) The film is a very good adaptation of the book; slight changes have been made though. In the book, the ending is different from the one in the movie. Stanley is a devoted husband until the last part of the story when he rapes Blanche. In the book, Stella, who is a lovable woman forgives him and agrees to live with him. The original play ends when Stanley holds a crying Stella and their baby close to him and they watch Blanche being taken to a mental asylum. However, in the film Stella reacts in a different way. The sudden change in Stanley’s behavior upsets her terribly and she rejects his love. She decides not to return to Stanley’s house despite his efforts to comfort her. Stanley tries calling her in the hope that she might forgive him as she has often done before, but that never happens.

The book has a clear and direct ending, in which the readers know that they are going to live a happy life in future, especially now since Stella gave birth to a baby. However, the movie does not directly show what happens in their future. There is a chance that Stella might return to him once she overcomes her shock and temper, because there have been prior instances of Stella forgiving Stanley in the story, when he pleads apology after committing mistakes. It is left to the audience to imagine whether she might return or not.

Ans:2) The movie is very similar to the book, except in its ending. Stella, who has always forgiven Stanley for his mistakes, finds it difficult to do so when he rapes her own sister. It proves that his love towards her was not true. While in the book, Stella again forgives him and agrees to leave him, in the movie she declares that she will never return to Stanley’s house, though the film does not reveal if the poor, lovable woman sticks on to her decision in future.

Apart from the difference in the ending, when Stella forgives Stanley, his crime seems to be neglected in the story. Even the readers forget that he is a major reason for Blanche’s pathetic condition. The book concentrates on Blanche’s mistakes in life and not on his. The film treats his crime in a more serious fashion by shaping Stella’s decision as against him. Thus, both Blanche and Stanley get punished for their mistakes, though Blanche deserves sympathy too.

Describe the two characters; Stanley and Blanche with specific evidence that shows their characteristics well

Blanche, like many of Williams’ regular characters, is a Southerner, who is proud of her past and wishes to show off in front of others. In reality, Blanche’s life is a total failure. Her irrepressible sexual desire makes her live the wrong way. She is thrown out of her teaching job because she tried to seduce one of her teenage students. She even forgets her age when it comes to her desires. Whatever the truth, she projects herself as a highly respectable ‘lady’ when she comes to her sister’s house. She does not approve of Stanley’s small two-room apartment, and the middle-class neighborhood. She conveniently does not mention that she herself is poorer than them. She even advises Stella to leave Stanley and instead marry a millionaire, to equal her social status.

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She is a vain and pretentious woman who does not accept the truths as they are. She believes that real happiness can be found only in men and does a lot of mistakes for which she gets punished at last. The title of the play is justified through the character of Blanche, the woman with an uncontrollably desirous mind. “That metaphor finds its expression within the play in the character of Blanche DuBois — originally played by Jessica Tandy — a fragile southern belle who visits her sister Stella, played by Kim Hunter, and Stella’s working-class husband Stanley, played by Brando.” (A Streetcar Named Desire).

Stanley and the drastic development in his character is the crux of the play. At the beginning he is a very loyal husband, happy and content with his family life. The author hints that he is a different face when he shows his violence in work, fighting and even sex. He gets angry when someone calls him ‘Polack.’ Though an immigrant, he wants to be called an American, which shows a generation of heterogeneous America.

He does not like Blanche for what she pretends; a respectable Southern lady, which he doubts she is. These qualities are lost at the end when he rapes Blanche, who is his sister-in-law. The real animal inside him comes out at this part of the play. He does not even regret his deed in the later part of the play when Blanche is being taken to the asylum. He remains stiff and tries to comfort his wife. He makes arrangements to admit Blanche in the asylum, when he himself is the reason for her pitiable state.

Works Cited

A Streetcar Named Desire. Npr. 2002. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 21). “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/a-streetcar-named-desire-by-tennessee-williams/

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