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.
Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1186
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 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 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 Blanche in part because she represents a bygone era when these divides were intentional and prominent.
Harold “Mitch” Mitchell
Mitch is a large, awkward man and one of Stanley’s friends. He and Stanley fought in the war together, and like the rest of Stanley’s friends, he is of the working class. Mitch is more sensitive than Stanley’s other friends, and he lives with his terminally ill mother, whom he cares for. Although Stanley and his other friends make fun of him for his sensitivity, he cares deeply about his mother and is dreading the day when she will die. He would like to find someone to marry before she dies so that he does not have to be alone. It is this drive for companionship that draws him to Blanche. However, he comes to resent her for having lied to him about her past and for refraining from having sex with him before marriage.
Eunice is Stella and Stanley’s landlord and upstairs neighbor. She is a friend and confidante to Stella. Eunice is married to Steve, and their relationship is mutually abrasive and abusive. Throughout the play, expressions of their relationship move between intense love and physical fighting, often within the course of minutes.
Steve is a friend of Stanley’s who lives with his wife, Eunice, in the upstairs flat. He is abusive to Eunice and resembles Stanley in his temperamental and aggressive nature.
News Collection Boy
Only on stage for a short time, the collection boy is a teenager who attempts to collect money for the local paper from Blanche. Blanche flirts with him and kisses him before sending him on his way. This foreshadows her admission that she had an affair with one of her teenage students, and it further represents Blanche’s preoccupation with youth.
The doctor is a clinical but kindly gentleman who comes to take Blanche to an asylum at the end of the play. His ability to calm a panicking Blanche arguably shows the deference that Blanche displays when interacting with men. This is also shown by Blanche’s final line, spoken to him: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
The matron, along with the doctor, comes to take Blanche to a psychiatric institution at the end of the play. Blanche fights with the matron, trying to escape. She is cold and practical, requesting a straitjacket to restrain Blanche.
Allan is Blanche’s late husband. He killed himself long before the play begins because Blanche called his homosexual tendencies “disgusting.” He represents a past that Blanche longs for. He may also serve as a way to show how Blanche’s old-fashioned, conservative views are a part of her own downfall.
Shep is one of Blanche’s ex-boyfriends. He has made a fortune in the Texas oilfields, and Blanche believes that he will help her regain her footing and social standing, although there is no indication that he has any interest in Blanche. As Blanche descends into insanity, her insistence that he will come to her aid shows he represents a fantasy for Blanche. She hopes to be saved by a hero who will never arrive.
Shaw is Stanley’s supplier at the auto shop. He is the first person to tip Stanley off as to Blanche’s promiscuous past. He often visits Laurel during his travels and met with Blanche while she was staying at a seedy hotel after having lost Belle Reve.
Kiefaber is a merchant in Laurel whom Mitch speaks to when he is trying to confirm Blanche’s past. Blanche claims that she rejected Kiefaber’s advances, which is why he would be willing to slander her name.