A Streetcar Named Desire Characters
by Tennessee Williams

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A Streetcar Named Desire Characters

The main characters in A Streetcar Named Desire are Blanche DuBois, Stella Kowalski, Stanley Kowalski, and Harold "Mitch" Mitchell.

  • Blanche DuBois is a woman in her early thirties who, having been fired from her teaching post due to a sex scandal, moves in with her sister. She is gripped by her memories and fantasies.
  • Stella Kowalski is Blanche's more grounded sister who moved to New Orleans as an adolescent. She often represents a middle ground between Blanche and Stanley.
  • Stanley Kowalski is Stella's arrogant, assertive husband who despises Blanche's old-fashioned pretensions.
  • Mitch is Stanley's friend and Blanche's love interest. He fears being alone.

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Characters

Stella Kowalski

Stella is a woman in her mid to late twenties who grew up in Alabama in a rich family with her sister, Blanche. She moved to New Orleans in her teens. There, she married Stanley Kowalski, a lower-class man of Polish descent. At the beginning of the play, Stella is midway through pregnancy. Stella is arguably the most levelheaded individual in the play; she is consistently less passionate than her sister or husband. When Blanche comes to visit, Stella is torn between her husband’s and her sister’s worlds. The former is practical, progressive, and unrestrained, the latter superficial, old-fashioned, and genteel. Stella represents the compromise between these two worlds, as she loves and understands both her husband and sister. However, Stella is not strong-willed, and her compromising nature fuels much of the play’s drama, as Blanche and Stanley fight over her. Ultimately, Stella is faithful to her husband and has moved on from her genteel Southern upbringing.

Blanche DuBois

Blanche is Stella’s older sister and a schoolteacher in her early thirties. She embodies a certain old-fashioned Southern charm. Whereas Stella left the plantation at an early age, Blanche stayed behind, maintaining a genteel and refined character. Since Stella left, Blanche has fallen into difficult times. She has lost the family mansion to the bank and has very little money left. She was married when she was young, but her husband committed suicide. She blames herself for his death and has not come to terms with it fully. Further, Blanche is deeply concerned with her status as an aging widow, and she goes to great lengths to hide her age. Since her husband’s death, and despite her front of chastity and gentility, she has had periods of promiscuity. She has come to visit Stella after losing her teaching job. It is revealed that she was fired for having an affair with one of her students, a 17-year-old boy, but she maintains the pretence that she is simply travelling to calm her nerves. Over the course of these events, Blanche has also developed a drinking problem. Blanche represents an old way of living that is no longer sustainable in the late 1940s, and her struggle to maintain the image of the southern belle ultimately contributes to her delusions. She is unable to separate reality from the fictitious desires that she harbors.

Stanley Kowalski

Stanley is a temperamental, working-class man in New Orleans. He is roughly thirty years old and married to Stella. Stanley is a World War II veteran and now works as an auto mechanic. He despises pretentiousness and is assertive and unapologetic in all of his dealings. Stanley is also set in his ways, preferring not to deviate from the routine he has built with Stella, which includes traditionally masculine activities such as bowling, nights out at the bar, and poker with his friends. While Stanley loves his wife, it is clear that he is stubborn in attaining his own desires, and his own pride often takes priority when he is interacting with her. These tendencies can also be seen in the way that he treats Blanche, culminating in his assault upon her in scene 10. Stanley represents the working class as well as a new era in the United States where class and racial divides are not as stark as they once were. He despises...

(The entire section is 1,173 words.)