A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire
“Streetcar” opened on Broadway in
1947 for a two-year run. It starred
Marlon Brando.
In 1951, it was made into what is
considered one of the best-ever
adaptations of a play into a movie.
It starred Brando, Vivian Leigh
(“Scarlett O’Hara”), Kim Hunter, and
Karl Malden.
4 Oscars, including Best Actress
(Leigh); Best Supporting Actress
(Hunter); Best Supporting Actor
The film tempers but remains true to
the play’s controversial issues (for its
time), ranging from rape and domestic
violence, to homosexuality, and female
A Streetcar Named Desire
The story opens with
Blanche DuBois coming to
New Orleans to visit her
younger sister, the
pregnant Stella, and the
sister’s husband, Stanley
Kowalski. To get to their
seedy apartment, Blanche
has to take a streetcar
named Desire.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Thus, the Desire streetcar became the most famous
street railway in the world.
It was started by the New Orleans Railway and Light Co.
in 1920. It served the bar and nightclub section of the
French Quarter along Bourbon Street.
A Streetcar Named Desire
The play occurs in three acts;
somewhat of a rarity, but
Williams’s intent was to suggest
the passage of time: Act 1 occurs
in late spring, Act 2 in summer,
and Act 3 in early fall.
This poses the question as to
whether Blanche overstays her
It is set in the late 1940s in the
French Quarter of New Orleans.
The main setting is the Kowalskis’
run-down apartment in a squalid
community that was once a
neighborhood rich in old-world
refinement and grandeur.
This is very symbolic of Blanche
DuBois herself.
A Streetcar Named Desire
This is the story of the mental and
emotional demise of Blanche, a fragile,
repressed, delicate, Southern woman
born to a once-wealthy, aristocratic
family of Mississippi planters at the
ancestral home, Belle Reve.
After losing her husband, home, and
job, Blanche visits her sister, Stella,
and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski,
and becomes a long-term guest in
their home.
She seeks refuge and happiness, but
finds drunkenness, violence, lust and
Williams described her as “moth-like”
and delicate. She is a refined,
sensitive, cultured, intelligent woman
who is never willing to hurt anyone.
She is at the mercy of the brutal,
realistic, world.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Stanley Kowalski
 That world is symbolized by
Stanley, a common, working
man who is simple,
straightforward, and honest.
 He tolerates nothing but the
bare, unembellished truth and
lives in a world without
 He views women in a limited
 He is seen as common, crude,
and vulgar.
 Stanley is the opposing force
to Blanche’s struggles and her
world of illusion.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Stella Kowalski
 Blanche’s younger sister,
married to Stanley.
 She has turned her back on
her aristocratic upbringing to
enjoy common marriage.
 She is caught in between the
two opposing worlds of her
husband, Stanley, and her
sister, Blanche.
 She is a passive, gentle
woman who nonetheless
enjoys a raw, physical
attraction to her husband.
A Streetcar Named Desire
 Stanley’s best friend, who
went through World War
II with him.
 Unmarried, he lives with
his sick mother.
 Softhearted and sensitive,
he initially relates to
Blanche and her world,
but this often places him
in conflict with Stanley.
A Streetcar Named Desire
The play’s structure
revolves around contrasts
and confrontations
between Blanche and
Their backgrounds are
very different, evidenced
by their names. DuBois is
assumed to be
aristocratic, of proud
heritage. Kowalski is a
rough-hewn name, a
worker in a steel mill.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Blanche speaks softly
and flittingly; Stanley
speaks loudly and
 Stanley loves loud
poker parties, rough
humor, and hard
drinking. Blanche is
inclined toward teas,
cocktails, and
A Streetcar Named Desire
Stanley uses speech to
express his wants, likes,
and dislikes. Blanche speaks
as if searching for higher
values, reflecting education
in her manner of speaking.
 Money to Stanley is power
that can buy basic wants
and pleasures of life; his
interest in Belle Reeve is
only in the money he feels
entitled to under the
Napoleonic Code.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Stanley is “simple, straightforward, and honest.” He
tolerates nothing but bare, unembellished truth.
Blanche, literally and figuratively, “puts a gaily-colored
paper lantern” on the harshness of truth.
This isn’t lying to Blanche. A lie for Blanche would be a
betrayal of herself, of everything she believes in.
Stanley hates the paper lantern. He sees it for nothing
other than a lie, and he hates Blanche for deceiving
others with it.
This conflict cannot be resolved; it originates in the
essence of their personalities.