How do we determine if a bad deed is justifiable or if it crosses a line? Who is truly a bad person and who is just victims of their circumstances? A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is an award-winning play that challenges one’s moral grounds, causing the reader to understand reason behind each character’s action yet resent it all the same.
The play starts off with Blanche DuBois moving in with her sister and brother-in-law, Stella and Stanley Kowalski, who reside in a low-class neighborhood in New Orleans. Blanche has nowhere else to go and requires rest and relaxation because of her bad nerves, nevertheless during her stay she still looks down upon Stella’s humble life. Blanche regards blue-collared Stanley with the same disdain, but their correspondence in their sexual expression creates a sexual tension between them and intertwines the major themes of class and sexuality in the play.
Blanche’s snobbish behavior and refusal to let go of her long-gone youth and wealth contrasts Stella’s contentment to give up the DuBois’ luxurious upbringings so that she can be with Stanley, the attractive, aggressive, sexual alpha-male. It seems that Stella prioritizes eroticism over affection, and Blanche’s desperate fight against loneliness disregards the need for genuine affection; eventually both of these tendencies come together to result in inevitable doom.
As I read the last pages of play, I realized in hindsight that the resultant path that characters took was carefully planted from the beginning; in other words the events that came to be were consequences of actions tracing back to when the play began, and everyone shared the blame. I believe the beauty of the play is in unavoidable choices and the morally grey areas. This enticing play sheds light on gender roles, mental struggles, sexual liberty and classism, and it’s a surprisingly short read that is hard to put down.