In A Streetcar Named Desire, what does, "We've had this date from the beginning!" signify about Stanley's character?
I will take a bit of a different take on the statement. When Stanley says this to Blanche, it might signify that it was only a matter of time before the former would overtake and subsume the latter. I think that it is a statement of Stanley asserting his power over Blanche, which would lend more credence to the rape aspect. At the same time, I think that it also reflects a theme in the play that Blanche's "time" in the modern setting was limited. Blanche had already been depicted as not synchronized with the times. The fact that the "Old South" is gone and a new vision of this setting is in its place helps to enhance Blanche's dissonant relationship with her context. Stanley's line brings to light that Blanche, in a sense, had been living on borrowed time and that she was meant to be overcome by the setting that would deem her voice as not necessarily validated or accepted. The idea of setting "this date" from the start brings to light Stanley's desire to control and overwhelm Blanche, something that had been evident in his brutish character from the initial exposition of the drama.
Stanley is referring to the fact that there has been an attraction between himself and Blanche since they first met. Whether one refers to what happens between them as rape or not is perhaps open for interpretation, based upon how a production portrays the scene. Stanley loves his wife Stella, but is drawn to Blanche's personality, her odd combination of assertiveness and passivity, her femininity, her sexuality. She has a far more flamboyant than Stella, and because he is on some level socially awkward like Blanche, he feels a kinship to her.
There are various signs of sexual tension between Blanche and Stanley throughtout the play, though the references are ambiguous.
Blanche is sexually provocative in her dealings with men, it has been her way of getting by in a world where women are not equal. She attempts to flirt, not very successfully, with Stanley in Scene 2, basically simply to "get him onside" i.e less hostile toward her, when she sprays him with her perfume, having already sprayed herself (sharing her "scent"). He responds,
" If I didn't know you was my wife's sister, I'd get ideas about you."
Stanley is a sexual predator, who "sizes up women at a glance, with sexual classifications." (stage direction). Stanley misreads the implications of Blanche's flirtatious actions. To Stanley, they read that she is making herself available. This notion weould have been reinforced by what he has learned about Blanche's past.
There is some of this sexual frisson in Stanley's words,
"We've had this date since the beginning."
However, William's conveys a more sinister meaniing ( not consciously apprehended by Stanley. Blanche and Stanley have been embroiled in a battle for control of Stella's sensibility (Stella is Blanche's sister. Stanley's wife). Since the rape of Blanche is an act of domination which destroys her and proclaims his victory, there is a sense that this act (or this "battle") has been an inevitable "date" since Stanley first felt that Blanche threatened his futer relationship with his wife, (when he overheard Blanche refer to him as a "survivor of the stone age, liken him to an ape and urge her sister not to,"hang back with the brutes".
The quote is important, because it reflects that:
* the conflict between Blanche and Stanley has been established from the beginning and was destined to end violently.
* Stanley perceives the sexual tension between himself and Blanche in a way that she does not.
It says that Stanley trusts and acts upon his instincts.
It says that Stanley is insensitive to the implications of the emixed messages that he receives from Blanche, because he does not understand her.
It says that he is an opportunist, who will act upon an impression of sexual attraction without analysing that impression or predicting the consequences of his action.
It says that he is sexually confident to the point of arrogance.
It says that Stanley is ruthless is pursuance of destroying Blanche and securing his relationship with Stella.
It says that he is a survivor.