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A Streetcar Named Desire

A group of plucky, boisterous teens talk about a famous play by Tennessee Williams

Jill Wall

on 23 May 2014

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Transcript of A Streetcar Named Desire

Streetcar's Significance
Gender roles (what is expected of men/women, male domination)
Imagination vs. Reality
The connection between sexuality and death
Music (polka and the piano)

Use in Major Assertion
Choice between old family and new family
Dependance on other family members and relying on them (Blanche on Stella)
Brief Summary
Blanche arrives at her sister Stella's house in New Orleans to live with Stella and her husband Stanley since she lost ownership of her family home at Belle Reve. It becomes obvious very quickly that Stanley and Blanche are polar opposites and neither are comfortable living with the other. Initially, Blanche comes off as self-indulged and snobbish while Stanley appears to be a likable, down to earth man. As the story goes on and life in New Orleans unfolds before the readers' eyes, we find out that Stanley is very unpleasant and short tempered, especially when drunk. Even though his wife Stella is pregnant she beats her quite often, but she always ends up forgiving him claiming that their healthy relationship in the bedroom is enough to make up for everything else.
Genre & Style
Written as a play
Realistic Fiction
Abstract vs. Concrete
Dull vs. Dramatic
Main Characters
Blanche DuBois...Sister
Stella Kowalski...Wife
Stanley Kowalski...Husband
Mitch... Friend/Boyfriend
A Streetcar Named Desire
By Tennessee Williams

Plot Summary (Cont'd)
Blanche is outraged by this and urges her sister to get away from Stanley before it's too late. Blanche and Stanley's personalities continue to clash until both of them reach their breaking points and Stanley goes out of his way to exploit all of Blanche's secrets to ruin her reputation. He exposes her past ways of living to Stella and her boyfriend Mitch. It turns out that Stella was essentially a prostitute and had an affair with her seventeen year old student which lead to her being fired from her teaching position.
Read an excerpt from the the beginning of the text to get an idea of the characters' personalities. Scene Two, pages 39-43
Then, read and watch an excerpt from the end, compare the two methods and how the characters have changed.

Evaluation of the Work
"An achievement of unusual and exciting distinction."
- Saturday Review of Literature

Won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Drama Critics Circle Award

Our Evaluation
Although strange at some parts, the play was overall very entertaining and lively. We an still relate to the themes today and although the play was written almost 70 years ago it is still relevant.
The play might have been easier to understand if you saw it as a play rather than read it as a book.
Streetcar's Significance Cont'd
Cultural Relevance:
"Every man is a king! And I am the king around here, so don't forget it!"
Stanley refers to Napoleonic code which states that what belongs to his wife also belongs to him which shows his manly instincts and how he wants to be in charge
Blanche thinks of Stanley as somewhat inferior because of his Polish background
They make a reference to Huey Long who was a member of the United States Senate, and the governor of Louisiana
Old America vs. New America
Summary (Cont'd)
On the night that Stella is giving birth, Blanche and Stanley are left alone in their apartment, after much foreshadowing of what is about to happen, Stanley rapes Blanche, leaving her defeated, vulnerable and ultimately insane. Stella does not believe her sister when she tells her what happens and instead makes plans to have her taken to a metal hospital. The story ends with Blanche being taken away by the doctor and Stella crying out for her sister who might have not been crazy after all.
Closure Activity:
Quiz Time!
What is the relationship between Blanche, Stella and Stanley?
Name and describe one of the themes of the story.
What are two of the three motifs?
How is this story still relevant to our world today?
Full transcript