A Streetcar Named Desire

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Brandon - Blue, Fajer - , Nicole - Purple, Mohammad-Green

Character Depiction

Blanche Dubois

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Blanche is a thirty year old woman from Mississippi. She wears lavish clothing and is a woman whose beauty “must avoid a strong light”. Blanche acts as the main character of the play. Proud of her origin, Blanche is racist and classist towards others despite being poor after losing her house and job. This proud nature and her lies causes her to antagonize her brother-in-law, Stanley. Her lies stem from the desire to protect herself.“I don't want realism. I want magic!...I don't tell the truth, I tell what ought to be the truth. And it that's sinful, then let me be damned for it!” (Scene 9) She longs for a better reality for herself because of all the tragedies that befell her. Blanche is a woman who does not conform with the gender norms expected at the time period. She lived and worked on her own for a while, thus showing she can be independent. She has low self-esteem that causes her high sexual desire. She constantly needs to be approved by a man sexually to feel any worth. This need to feel accepted can be considered her biggest flaw as it would lead to her downfall.



Stella Kowalski

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Stella is the younger sister of Blanche DuBois. She is around 25 years of age and unlike Blanche, moved to New Orleans instead of staying in their plantation in rural Mississippi, known as the Belle Reve, meaning "beautiful dream" in French. She is the wife of Stanley Kowalski, a self-proclaimed "social leveler" who enjoys gambling, games and sex. A notable strength of Stella is that she is able to make the best out of her situation; she went from living in rural New Orleans to living with Stanley. Even though Stanley beats her on multiple instances throughout the novel, she still seems to be content with her situation. Stella's main weakness is that she is delusional and cannot see what is actually happening in front of her. Even though it is known that Stanley dislikes Blanche and even proceeds to rape her, she cannot accept this as fact. Stella even tells Eunice that she "couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley.” Her delusion would end up becoming her sister's downfall as she would be taken to a mental asylum in the end of the play.


Important Vocabulary
(Scenes 1-2)

1) attenuates: (pg 1) (V) - to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect, quantity, or value.
2) raffish: (pg 1) (Adj) - gaudily vulgar or cheap; tawdry.
3) spasmodic: (pg 8) (Adj) - given to or characterized by bursts of excitement.
4) highbrow: (pg 14) (n) - a person of superior intellectual interests and tastes
5) Polack: (pg 19) (n) - person of Polish descent.
6) Gaudy: (pg 20) (Adj)- brilliantly or excessively showy.
7) Preen: (Pg 29) (V) - to pride (oneself) on an achievement, personal quality, etc.
8) Abscond: (pg 37) (V) - to depart in a sudden and secret manner, especially to avoid capture and legal prosecution.
9) Improvident: (pg 40) (Adj) - not provident; lacking foresight; incautious; unwary.
10) Fornication: (pg 40) (n)- voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other.
(Scenes 3-5)

11. Frazzled (p.47) - to be exhausted physically or emotionally.
12. Row (p.51) - a noisy disturbance or quarrel.
13. Inscription (p. 53) - words that are written on or cut into a surface.
14. Bobby-soxers (p. 56) - a teenage girl; over zealous, typically teenage girls who are fans of singer Frank Sinatra
15. Pinioned (p. 57) - to bind (a person's arms or hands) so they cannot be used.
16. Cultivated (p. 65) - to foster the growth of.
17. Street-car (p. 70) - a rail vehicle which runs on tracks.
18. Swilling (p.72) - drinking or eating greedily or in excess.
19. Hulking (p.72) - being heavy and clumsy
20. Coquettishly (p.84) - flirtatiousness, especially in a teasing, lighthearted manner.

(Scenes 9-11)
31) uncavalier: (pg 113) (adj) - not caring enough about something important
32) malarkey: (pg 118) (n) - foolish words or talk
33) recriminations: (pg 119) (n) - a countercharge
34) bureau: (pg 125) (n) - a chest of closets
35) lurid: (pg 128) (adj) - gruesome; horrible; revolting
36) sinuous: (pg 128) (adj) - having many curves or bends
37) callous: (pg 131) (adj) - made hard; hardened
38) quinine: (pg 136) (n) - a white, bitter, slightly water-soluble alkaloid used in medicine
39) sotto voce: (pg 139) (adv) - in a quiet voice
40) pinion: (pg 141) (v) - tie or hold the arms or legs of (someone)


Themes

Gender Roles

A Streetcar Named Desire display and challenges the ideal of the expected gender role of men and women at the time. Men, such as Stanley, are the ones who bring home the money and supports the family and are allowed to be sexual and brute. Females are expected to be the caretakers of the house and obey the men. However, Blanche’s character does not conform to this ideal. She was able to provide for herself for a time and does not respect Stanley, the point of authority in the household. She feels that she should be treated queen while he, king. Blanche need the acceptance of men for her self esteem though.In the end, says that she relies on the kindness of strangers, but in reality, she relies on men to accept her sexually. This shows the thinking of the time; women were thought to be needed by men. This unfortunately leads to Blanche’s fall throughout the story.

Delusion

Delusion is a prominent theme in A Streetcar Named Desire. Delusion is the factor that keeps Stella staying in her relationship with Stanley, and it is also the reason that Blanche is sent to a mental institution at the end of the play. Stella's delusion is visible throughout the play; this can be seen when she says "I'm not in anything I want to get out of." She knows that she is being abused, but she still does not wish to leave their relationship. This is also visible when she tells Eunice that she "couldn't believe her story and go on living with Stanley.” Here, she is denying the fact that Blanche was ever raped by Stanley.

Companionship


Throughout the novel Blanche is tackled by loneliness and she seeks companionship since she has just recently lost her husband. she not only seeks the companionship of a male but that of her sister, she tells her sister that as sisters they must stay together and help each other out. However, with Stanley in the picture Stella and Blanche cannot stay together as Stella loves Stanley and will go back to him in almost any circumstance. That is where Mitch comes into play, he feels the same type of loneliness and desire for companionship as Blanche does and that's what brings them together. the only thing Mitch has is his sick mother and once she is gone he will be completely alone and this is why he seeks the companionship of a woman. throughout the novel the desire for companion is evident, except at the end. Blanche is finally satisfied and overcomes her loneliness when the doctor helps her since she is no longer alone and has the companionship of the doctor.



Significant Quotes


“Don’t say I lied to you….Never inside, I didn’t lie in my heart.” (pg 119)

Blanche says this after Mitch confronts her about her lies. Blanche is a person who wants to be loved and did everything she could to be accepted. She dressed up to look appealing to men and lied about her past. The lies felt comforting than her reality and slowly, Blanche began to believe those lies herself. The quote reflects the state of her mind. It shows how unstable she has become and how tragic her character truly is. She imagined an ideal life for herself that would become her reality. Because of the constant lies, she ruined the relationships she had with Stella and Mitch. She hated the light because it revealed the truth both physically and metaphorically. She preferred to live in a world of dark where she could dream of a better life.




"I'm not in anything I want to get out of." - Stella, Scene 4


This quote seems self-explanatory at first glance; Stella is merely presenting her feelings to Blanche's statement. Despite Stella and Stanley's abusive relationship, Stella wants no part in Blanche's attempts to get her out of it. Stella even tells her that she got a "thrill" out of seeing Stanley smash light bulbs with her slipper on the day of their marriage. However, what prompts Stella to say this is the fact that Blanche essentially caused her to say this by saying "You can get out." In all, this quote is saying that Stella doesn't want to get out of her relationship, and Blanche's statement ends up prompting this quote to be said in the first place. It reflects Stella's delusion as she sees nothing wrong with being abused by her husband.




BLANCHE:

“Oh, I guess he's just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume, but maybe he's what we need to mix with our blood now that we've lost Belle Reve. We thrashed it out. I feel a bit shaky, but I think I handled it nicely, I laughed and treated it all as a joke.” (page 40)

Blanche says this during her girls night out with Stella, and in this statement alone she criticizes Stanley’s authority and respect in the class system. She says that he is of a low class, and reiterates the fact that Stella shouldn't be with him since she is of a higer class, but in this statement she seems to have a bit more of an understanding. she relates Stella being with Stanley only to continue the family lineage, however Stella’s true reason for being with him is because she loves him and can’t be without him.





Significant Scenes
(Scene 1)
The scene when Stella is talking to Blanche about how much she loved Stanley is very important. when she says that she becomes upset when he is not around and if he is gone for too long she would even cry. This shows the immense amount of love Stella had for Stanley. Blanche was only looking at their marriage in a way of social advancement and class, when truly the reason for their marriage was love for one another and throughout the beginning of the novel all that Blanche does is criticize how Stanley is polish and that Stella should have found someone better but in reality she loved Stanley and nothing would stop her from being with him.


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(From Scene 11)
After Blanche was raped, she is awakened from her fantasy for the first time in the play. However, when she told Stella of the assault, she did not believe her. The final scene develops Stella greatly. It reflects how society’s thought that women need to be dependent on man. It influenced Stella to believe she needed to be with her husband rather than believe her own sister. In the end, Stella realizes her errors and begs for Stella to come back. However, she abandoned Blanche in her time of need - the time when Blanche wanted to confront reality. Thus, Stella is a reason as to why Blanche left in the first place. It is tragic especially considering that this is the fate of all the characters.


(Scene 3)


Blanche turns on the radio and Stanley then throws it out of the window because it annoyed him. After, Stanley proceeds to hit Stella and is quickly restrained by his friends. Stanley later realizes what he had done and proceeds to try and call Stella back to him, much to Eunice's annoyance. Stella comes back and Stanley places his head on her maternal belly and carries her into a room afterwards. This scene depicts Stella being beaten by her husband, Stanley. It can be inferred that violence has occurred more than once in their household as Stanley broke light bulbs with Stella's slipper on their wedding night. This ends up with Blanche attempting to get Stella out of their abusive relationship, which ends up failing miserably as Stella sees no problems with it. This scene is unique, as it shows the abusive and caring sides of their relationship, which is not normally seen in most relationships like these.







Social Concerns


Ideal Beauty
Beauty is subjective. No matter how similar two people are, their ideas of beauty will vary. However, it has reached the point that people will use their beauty as a basis for their self-esteem. In American media, it is not unusual for a woman to be used as an object of desire. In magazines, there is a saturation of photoshopped models. This causes women to starve themselves to achieve this “ideal” beauty. Similarly, Blanche tries to change herself in order to feel desirable. She wear fancy clothes and does not allow her face to be seen in bright light. She needs the approval of man to feel good about herself. Despite the play being written nearly half a decade ago, the need for beauty amongst American woman remains the same.

Delusion

In American society, delusion plays a factor in our lives, even though we do not necessarily notice it. Delusion is defined as "holding false beliefs with strong conviction, even when presented with superior evidence to the contrary." In the tame sense, many people can be classified as delusional. Many people believe that the United States is the greatest country in the world, better than all others. While this may be true in the sense of our military, there is no one "best" country; most countries have both good and bad aspects to them. Nationalism plays a large factor as well; people who have lived in their home country for all of their lives will most likely think that their country is better in some way. Their reasoning would not have to necessarily be because of their military. It could be because of what or who they have for them there. An example of this in the play is found with Stella towards the end of the play. It is a known fact that Blanche was raped by Stanley, but Stella simply does not believe that this happened. She even tells Eunice that she "couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley.” Here, a conflict is presented to her; she can either believe the story and leave Stanley, or stay with Stanley and her delusion.

Marriage

i think marriage is a social concern which still affects American society today and that includes men and women finding each other and looking for companionship. why someone marries another is one aspect the book looks at. Stella marries Stanley for love however Blanche is just looking for the companionship of a man not of love just having someone who she can be with. in American society these view of marriage are consistent. Not all people marry becuase of love, some people have different goals for their marriages such as money.