Blanche DuBois (dew-BWAH), a desperate, neurotic woman who goes to New Orleans to stay with her younger sister Stella after losing her home and job in Mississippi. Blanche is haunted by guilt over the death of her young husband, who committed suicide after she confronted him about his homosexuality. She then became a nymphomaniac, scandalizing her hometown and losing her high school teaching job because of her relationship with a teenage boy. With no money, no home, and fading youth, Blanche clings to romantic illusions to sustain her self-image, even as she depends on Stella for shelter and emotional support. She still sees herself as the beautiful, refined mistress of Belle Reve, the former DuBois family plantation. Unable to accept the changes in her life, she turns to alcohol and romantic fantasy for escape. She hopes to solve her problems by marrying her brother-in-law Stanley’s friend Mitch, but he rejects her after discovering the truth about her past. First told to leave and then raped by Stanley, Blanche suffers an emotional collapse, retreating completely into the beautiful but delusional world to which she had tried so desperately to cling in reality.
Stanley Kowalski, Blanche’s brother-in-law. Stanley is earthy, unrefined, sensual, and sometimes violent, in every way the opposite of the image of Southern gentility Blanche tries to project. Stanley loves Stella, though he is possessive, dominant, and occasionally abusive toward her. He views Blanche’s presence as a threat to his position of power and control in his home. He distrusts her immediately because she cannot adequately explain the loss of Belle Reve, which represents a significant financial setback for him and Stella. He resents Blanche’s ill-concealed belief that she is better than him, yet he is sexually attracted to her at the same time. Stanley’s sexual frustration resulting from the lack of privacy in the small apartment intensifies his hostility toward Blanche. By informing Mitch of her sordid reputation, telling her to leave his home, and finally raping her, Stanley forces Blanche to acknowledge the truth about herself, but he also destroys her completely in the process, apparently without regret.
Stella Kowalski, Blanche’s younger sister and Stanley’s wife. Stella is more realistic than her sister, accepting Stanley and his working-class world rather than trying to re-create the life of wealth and privilege that has long since vanished for the DuBois family. Stella also is more shallow and less sensitive than Blanche. Stella loves Blanche and feels sorry for her, but she cannot fully understand the emotional turmoil Blanche is experiencing. After a drunken Stanley hits Stella (who is pregnant), she returns to him partly because the sexual attraction between them is so strong. Stella is furious when Stanley reveals Blanche’s past to Mitch and tells her she must leave, but the impending birth of their baby seems to dispel her anger. Even when Blanche is being taken away to a mental hospital, Stella cannot bring herself to acknowledge the truth of what Stanley has done to her sister, refusing to believe Blanche and choosing to stay with Stanley.
Harold Mitchell, called Mitch, a friend and coworker of Stanley. Mitch is a simple, kind man, devoted to his dying mother and attracted to Blanche in an old-fashioned, romantic way. He is somewhat shy and socially awkward, but he is the gentlest and most refined of Stanley’s friends. He seems to be the only person capable of understanding Blanche’s needs and relating to her. Mitch is very traditional, and Stanley’s stories of Blanche’s sexual escapades embarrass and horrify him. He takes similar offense to her deception, about both her age and her past. Drunk and humiliated, he verbally attacks Blanche, treats her like a prostitute, and brutally rejects her. When Blanche is being led away to the mental hospital, however, Mitch expresses disgust over Stanley’s behavior and remorse over his own actions.
Eunice Hubbell, Stanley and Stella’s upstairs neighbor. Eunice is a no-nonsense, practical woman who comforts Stella and shelters her after her fight with Stanley. She also encourages Stella not to believe Blanche’s story of the rape for the sake of Stella’s marriage.