Tennessee Williams – A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire is a drama from 1947 written by American playwright Tennessee Williams. He got Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1948. A plot is situated to one poor house in a slum in New Orleans. This mossy house has two floors. In the first floor there live Stella and her husband Stanley, in the second floor are Eunice with Steve. A great supplement is a negritic music from a close bar. The play is based on sophisticated features of particular characters. It is a psychological drama and the top of author’s work. The main protagonist, Stanley, Polish incomer, mindless dunce, not understanding his wife, peacock and inhuman, characterless, hung up guy. He wants completely control the whole family. He even stroke Stella out, when she is pregnant and affords some kind of different opinion. Stella comes from black-tie crowd, she fell in love with him, when she was too young. She is blindly fond of him and she is able to do anything. Her older sister, Blanche, comes to visit her to the station Desire (part of title of the book), where Stella and Stanley live and she started to live with them. As we later find out, she lost Belle Réve, their family seat, then she was working as a teacher of English. Now, she is on the hog that is why she decided to visit her beloved younger sister.

Stanley hates her from the very beginning. On the other hand, he has no problem to rape her, while his wife has birth pangs. As soon as Stella know more about this incident, she placed Blanche, under the pressure of Stanley, to the madhouse.

Other characters are neighbour Eunice, gamblers Mitch, Steve and Pablo. Their roles are small and unimportant. Interesting plot is been enacted between Blanche and Mitch. Blanche is violently looking for some man to live with. She started to flirt with Mitch. Mitch is good boy without vile intentions. He likes Blanche, but on the other hand, he has to take care of his poor old mother, who is dying. They would be likely nice couple, but priggish Stanley destroyed everything. He told Mitch all the bad things from the Blanche’s past and Mitch refused her. According Stanley’s gossips, Blanche was married once to a nice guy. But  after some time she found out that he was a homosexual. That made her furious. After couple of weeks, he killed himself. Another gossip was, when she was a teacher at school, she started an affair with 17 years old student. They run her off the job. Blanche is trying to forget these bad things from her past and started to live new life.

Here we can see another site of Stanley’s ugly character. He is a great manipulator, he tries to set sister against. In the final scene is a doctor with a nurse, they come for a crazy Blanche. Hoaxed Stella suddenly forgives Stanley everything and she wants again to make love to him. It’s obvious that Stanley is a primitive and commoner. And Stella? Heedless and shy to show her real emotions.

The main motifs of drama is a relation between sex and death, dependence on men, bathing (Blanche drinks a lot, also she is in the bath every minute. According to her, it is good and helpful for her nerves – this hypothesis say often hypochondriacs and unbalanced people), drunkenness (whole house is addicted to play poker and drinking alcohol.)

Tragical element of the play is obvious from the very beginning. A desire can be: the mentioned tram stop or Blanche’s desire for better living, also it can be Stella’s desire to have more tactful husband and for better level of their living as well. But she is a domestic woman afraid of telling her own opinion, because for sure, Stanley would be rude and violent. It shows us clearly a hunger for love, support, love-making. It is a hunger, which will never come true, but still it is so beautiful to be sick for something unavailable. At least in their minds. Heroes (Stella, Blanche and others) run to an imaginary world, where living is more cheerful and not only black and white. The Streetcar To Station Named Desire described a cruel cash of illusory visions about past headed to delusion, cruelty, vulgarity, violence – destroying of human’s desires.

There are many similar features with play of Samuel Beckett – Waiting for Godot. This piece has to show us that it is a nonsense to wait for something that will never come (Stella, at the bottom of one’s heart, waits for that moment that changes her life). People are sometimes running in life  for something completely unimportant. It was created in the second half of 20. century and refers to the existentialism. It criticizes an absurdity of life. Both plays are pessimistic and describe mostly the same features. Characters are similar to the previous one, very sophisticated.

Both creators of absurd drama were thanks to those 2 great plays high on list of most excellent play writers of drama of 20.century.


I appreciated reading both, but The Streetcar Named Desire was, according to me, much better, because of unexpected situations, slow unveiling of Stanley’s bad character and also of many funny dialogues. There were lot of philosophical questions like in Godot, it was not boring and time consuming. My favourite character was Blanche. She wasn’t bad or mad, as her sister though, she wanted just little help to cope with her life. When sisters met, they were simply happy to see each other, but when Stanley appeared, everything turned bad. He was kind of devil that destroyed everything – his whole life and life of her wife as well.

Finally I will add the most fundamental quotation:

„They told me to take a streetcar named Desire and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at- Elysian Fields!“


Blanche speaks these words to Eunice, a Negro woman, upon arriving at the Kowalski (Stella and Stanely) apartment at the beginning of Scene One. The names of the places that T.Williams uses have metaphorical value. Elysian Fields, the Kowalski’s street, is named for the land of the death in Greek mythology. The journey that Blanche describes making from the train station to the Kowalski‘s apartment is an allegorical version of her life up to this point in time. Her illicit pursuit of her sexual desires led to her social death and expulsion from her hometown.

In Godot there were also many metaphors. For instance Godot itself like a vision of better life, or something higher similar to God. The place of lonely old tree on the road and nothing else means also kind of desire to change your life in a better way.

I hope I described all of the similar features in those two plays. I liked the book very much, I enjoyed reading and I warmly recommend it to all ethusiasts of drama.