Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois are two of the main characters in the play, A Streetcar Named Desire. It is clear from the beginning that they are very different people. Blanche is Stella’s older sister. She goes to visit Stella at her house in New Orleans because the plantation Blanche lived on was lost. She is shocked at her sister’s small, two room living conditions. Blanche is representative of the old south because she is more proper and comes from a wealthy background. In comparison to the colloquial style, laid back diction of Stella’s neighbors, Blanche speaks in short phrases, such as a simple “Yes” when answering Eunice’s questions. Her short way of speaking to Eunice may make seem like she is just being shy; however, Blanche asserts herself quickly as wanting to be left alone. Blanche does not want to be rude though, so even her pushy comment is said politely as, “If you will excuse me, I’m just about to drop”. Blanche DuBuois is a French name meaning “white woods”. She is proud of her name and associates it with beauty, ” Like an orchard in spring!” The color white connotes many things. In the United States, it is viewed as a color of purity, and is the traditional color for a wedding dress. On the other hand, white is also connected to winter months, which suggests coldness. Both descriptions are adjectives for describing personality as well, and Blanche is not specifically either. The complexity of her character is deep because she seems to want to do the right thing, but her actions are questionable. For example, Blanche openly flirts with Stella’s husband Stanley and tells her sister about it later. However, she claims to only be distracting Stanley from the bad news of loosing the plantation. Blanche also discretely drinks, smokes, and bathes frequently to calm her nerves. She believes that, “a woman’s charm is 50% illusion”, which explains why she is so preoccupied with the way that she looks. Blanche is always fishing for compliments and making sure her nose is powered before she enters a room full of people as if she wants to turn back time and go to a place where she was happy. Many people have died in her life, and these tragedies may have lead her to be more content by lying to herself and others. Blanche even says, “I know I fib a good deal.”, but she also claims, “when a thing is important I tell the truth”. However Blanche’s self conscious, secretive behavior and flirtatious nature make it hard to note Blanche as an honest person.
This image of Jessica Tandy, who won a Tony award for her performance as Blanche in the 1947 pre-broadway tryout of A Streetcar Named Desire, accurately portrays Blanche as a romantic character who has a drinking problem.
Stanley, Stella’s husband, is a passionate man with animal like tendencies. He is an honest character who is representative of the truth because unlike Blanche, Stanley does not hide who he really is. He also enjoys drinking, but more as a social construct to further support his brute manliness. Stanley treats Stella as an inferior housewife, and asserts his dominance by throwing a hunk of meat at her during the first scene. Stella and her neighbors laugh at the gesture because they see it as a joke pertaining to sexual desire. Stanley expects his wife to prepare his meals. He says, “How about my supper, huh?” in a demanding tone, but Stella needs him even more because she is so in love with him. Stanley is a muscular and confident man. His passionate nature can be taken to far, like when he beats his wife after a poker game because she asked everyone to leave since it was so late. The rage that he shows is part of his animal side. Stanley also claims to honor the “Napoleonic code”, which states, “what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband and vice versa.”. He uses this code to argue to Blanche that the plantation that was lost should also belong to him. Stanley’s actions are straight forward, but his intensions are unclear. He may want more money for himself to elevate his dominance even more, or maybe he is just protective of his wife and wants to make sure she is well taken care of. Stanley refers to his wife as his “baby doll” which also alludes to the doll house image of Stella, and Stanley expects her to live up to these expectations. Dolls are played with, manipulated, and are built to have no imperfections. Stanley is the stereotypical alfa male and he is not afraid to show it.
Marlon Brando received an Oscar nomination for his role as Stanley Kowalski in the movie production of A Streetcar Named Desire. He is a tall, dark, and handsome man. HIs laid back attitude is portrayed in the photo.
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