Are Stella and Blanche similar in A Streetcar Named Desire?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams presents the diverse lives of sisters Blanche Dubois and Stella Kowalski. Blanche and Stella belonged to what was once a very rich and powerful family. Unfortunate events, including the death of the Dubois patriarch, fell upon the family bringing financial ruin. As a result, Blanche Dubois had to re-start her life with no money and with plenty of inner demons that would continuously haunt her. Among her weaknesses there was a fixation with sex, excessive drinking, lying, denying her reality, and pretending to be the person whom she once was.

Contrastingly, her sister Stella was younger than Blanche. She had left the Dubois household before Blanche did and eloped to marry a rogue and chauvinistic man named Stanley.  Stella puts up with Stanley’s drinking and gambling, much to Blanche’s disappointment. She also makes excuses for him, which makes Blanche quite upset. Here we see one of the biggest differences between the two sisters: Blanche is much more assertive when it comes to dealing with men. Stella, on the other hand, allows her husband to handle her as he wishes.

However, Stella’s attraction to Stanley is purely sexual. In this, she is just like Blanche: Both sisters have a weakness for sex that drives their life choices. Even after Stella got a beating from Stanley, he fixed the situation by having sex with her knowing how much she liked it. In fact, Stella seemed to ignore every one of Stanley’s bad qualities all for the sake of his presumed talent in bed.

On a similar note, Blanche was known to have lived at a hotel where she supposedly took in many gentlemen callers. She also had an affair with one of her students, enjoyed flirting, and consistently used sexuality to attract men.  It was no secret that Blanche had a lewd past.  Her notoriety was so great that even Stanley found out about her old practices. Hence, the sisters seemed to have a similarity in that they are both obsessed with sex in one form or another.

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