Scholars have often considered Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire to be a historical play about the transition of the American South into the modern era.
In this reading, Blanche DuBois represents the "Old South." She comes from a plantation-owning family and lives in the country. The name of her family's plantation is Belle Reve, meaning, 'beautiful dream'--a suggestion that her world is fading.
Stanley Kowalski, the antagonist, represents the "New South." He is a Polish immigrant, working in industry, rather than agriculture (the "gentleman's" profession) and living in New Orleans, one of the South's growing urban centers.
Many people consider the clash between Blanche and Stanley to map onto the historical clash between the "Old" and the "New" South in the early- to mid-twentieth century, for, during the time that the play was set, plantations across the South were closing to make way for manufacturing and industry. The end of the Civil War, the fall of the aristocratic planter class, and the ascendancy of a new class of merchants and industrialists in the South is also enacted in the play in Blanche's downfall.