A two-story corner building on a street in New Orleans. A dark evening in early in May.
Stanley Kowalksi returns home with his friend Mitch–drops off a slab of meat to his wife Stella and heads off to go bowling with Mitch. After putting the meat away, Stella follows them. Blanche DuBois, Stella's sister, arrives, carrying a valise, looking at a slip of paper, and seeming quite lost. Eunice, a neighbor, lets her in to the Kowalski's apartment. Blanche finds a whiskey bottle in a closet and downs a few shots to calm her nerves as she waits for Stella.

Upon her return, Stella quietly listens as Blanche expresses how distasteful she finds Stella's current living conditions. They just aren't good enough for her baby sister. Blanche then explains that she has taken a leave of absence from the highschool she teaches at so that she could come for a visit. Blanche also informs Stella that they have lost Belle Reve, the family plantation that they grew up on. Stella expresses her astonishment, and Blanche accuses her of having abandoned the family home, of having left her (Blanche) to struggle alone.

BLANCHE: I, I, I took the blows in my face and my body! All of those deaths! The long parade to the graveyard! Father, mother! Margaret, that dreadful way! So big with it, it couldn't be put in a coffin! But had to be burned like rubbish! You just come home in time for the funerals, Stella. And funerals are pretty compared to deaths. Funerals are quiet, but deaths–not always.

Shortly thereafter, Stanley returns from bowling. Blanche is immediately frightened by Stanley's rough demeanor. The two of them engage in an awkward, but sexually charged conversation while Stella hides in the bathroom where she has gone to regain her composure after Blanche's accusations about abandoning Belle Reve.


Six o'clock the following evening. Blanche is bathing. Stella explains to Stanley that Belle Reve has been lost. He wants to see the paperwork, suspects that Blanche might be trying to swindle them out of their share of the estate. Stella begs Stanley not to upset Blanche because of the ordeal that she's been through. Stanley then goes through Blanche's wardrobe trunk and jerks out an armful of dresses.

STANLEY: Open your eyes to this stuff! You think she got them out of a teacher's pay?


STANLEY: Look at these feathers and furs that she come here to preen herself in! What's this here? A solid-gold dress, I believe! And this one! What is this here? Fox-pieces! Genuine fox fur-pieces, a half a mile long! Where are your fox-pieces, Stella? Bushy snow-white ones, no less! Where are your white fox-pieces?

Stella insists that Stanley is being ridiculous and that her sister is not capable of perpetrating such a scheme. Angry, she storms out of the apartment to get away from Stanley. Blanche soon emerges from her bath in a red satin robe. Stanley quizzes her about the contents of her wardrobe. He informs her that he is not taken in by her charms and her "Hollywood glamour stuff." He forces her to show him the papers from the sale of the estate. As Blanche is retrieving the appropriate papers from her wardrobe, Stanley knocks another pile of papers to the floor. Blanche screams that she will burn them now that he has touched them. When he asks what they are, she replies:

BLANCHE: Poems a dead boy wrote. I hurt him the way that you would like to hurt me, but you can't! I'm not young and vulnerable any more. But my young husband was and I–never mind about that! Just give them back to me!

Blanche entrusts all of the estate papers to Stanley, saying:

BLANCHE: There are thousands of papers, stretching back over hundreds of years, affecting Belle Reve as, piece by piece, our improvident grandfathers and father and uncles and brothers exchanged the land for their epic fornications–to put it plainly! The four-letter word deprived us of our plantation, till finally all that was left–and Stella can verify that!–was the house itself and about twenty acres of ground, including a graveyard, to which now all but Stella and I have retreated. Here all of them are, all papers! I hereby endow you with them! Take them, peruse them–commit them to memory, even! I think it's wonderfully fitting that Belle Reve should finally be this bunch of old papers in your big, capable hands!

Stanley announces his intent to have a lawyer acquaintance of his examine the papers. He insists that it is his duty to take an interest in his wife's affairs–especially now that she is going to have a baby. Blanche is astonished. She had no idea. She rushes to congratulate her sister on the pregnancy. Together they head off to dinner while the men play poker.


When Stella and Blanche return from their evening on the town, the poker game is still in full swing. Blanche has a brief flirtatious encounter with Mitch, one of Stanley's friends. Blanche asks Stella about Mitch's prospects. She is clearly interested. When she finds out that Mitch had a romance with a dying girl, she immediately begins to relate to him, and she turns on the charm. There is an argument over the radio–which Blanche wants on and Stanley wants off. Stanley, very drunk, throws the radio through the window. When Stella puts an end to the poker game and orders the other men out of the house, Stanley hits her. Stella and Blanche then retreat upstairs to Eunice's apartment. The other men try to sober Stanley up, but he drives them out of the house. He calls up to the apartment above, to Stella, in some kind of half-animal desperation. In spite of the protestations of Blanche and Eunice, Stella slips down the rickety stairs in her robe, her eyes glistening with tears. Stella and Stanley stare at each other. Then they come together with low, animal moans. He falls to his knees on the steps and presses his face to her belly, curving a little with maternity. Her eyes go blind with tenderness as she catches his head and raises him level with her. He snatches the screen door open and lifts her off her feet and bears her into the dark flat. Noticing that her sister has slipped out, Blanche comes out on the upper landing in her robe and slips fearfully down the steps. She stops before the dark entrance of her sister's flat. Mitch appears from around the corner and comforts her.


Early the following morning, Blanche returns to the apartment and finds Stella blissfully content after a night of love-making with Stanley. She cannot believe that Stella would choose to live with such a violent creature. Stella insists that she's making much to big a fuss about the whole thing. She says he was "as good as a lamb" when she came back, and that he's really very ashamed of himself. Blanche is astonished and insists that her sister stop living in denial, stop acting as if nothing happened. She wants her to leave Stanley before it's too late. She asks if Stella remembers Shep Huntleigh, a man she (Blanche) went out with in college. She says she ran into him recently and that he has become a millionaire--that he owns hundreds of oil wells in Texas. She suggests that if she were to contact him, he might give them enough money to set up a shop somewhere. Stella has, however, no intentions of leaving Stanley. She is in love.

STELLA: ... there are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark–that sort of make everything else seem–unimportant.

BLANCHE: What you are talking about is brutal desire–just–Desire!–the name of that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another...

STELLA: Haven't you ever ridden on that street-car?

BLANCHE: It brought me here–where I'm not wanted and where I'm ashamed to be ...

Stanley enters, unheard by the two women as Blanche berates her sister for refusing to leave. She calls Stanley an animal, an ape, a survivor of the stone age, bearing raw meat home from the kill in the jungle. She entreats her sister to find a man with tenderer feelings, not to "hang back with the brutes." Stanley listens quietly, then slips out of the apartment, unseen by the ladies.


Blanche composes a letter to Shep Huntleigh as Eunice and her husband Steve fight in the apartment above. Stanley arrives in his bowling shirt. Stanley informs Blanche that he met a man named Shaw who claims to have met Blanche at a hotel called the Flamingo. Blanche nervously denies having met the man and insists that he must have her mixed up with some "other party" as the Hotel Flamingo is not the kind of establishment she would dare to be seen in. Stanley says this Shaw fellow goes in and out of Laurel all the time, so he'll have him check up on it and clear up any mistake. Stanley then heads off for the Four Deuces, a nearby bar.

Blanche asks Stella if people have been talking about her, if she has heard any gossip. Blanche admits that she wasn't so good the last two years or so, after Belle Reve had started to slip through her fingers. She announces that Mitch is coming at seven to pick her up for a date. When Stella asks if Blanche is really interested in Mitch, Blanche replies, "I want to rest! I want to breathe quietly again! Yes--I want Mitch . . . very badly! Just think! If it happens! I can leave here and not be anyone's problem ..."

Stella leaves to join Stanley at the Four Deuces, and Blanche is left alone. A young man soon appears at the door, collecting for the Evening Star. Blanche flirts with the young man shamelessly, kisses him, then sends him on his way, saying, "Now run along, now, quickly! It would be nice to keep you, but I've got to be good--and keep my hands off children." The young man exits, a little dazed, and Mitch appears around the corner with a bunch of roses.


About two A.M. on the same evening, Blanche and Mitch return from their date. Mitch apologizes, feeling that Blanche did not have a good time on their date. Blanche insists that it was all her fault. Blanche asks Mitch, in French, if he would like to sleep with her tonight. But he, of course, does not understand the foreign language, and when he attempts to touch her in any way, she reproves him for not being a gentleman. "I guess," she says, "It's just that I have old-fashioned ideals." Mitch tells Blanche about his dying mother, and suggests that she wants him to marry and settle down before she passes away. This is, of course, just what Blanche is after. Blanche tells Mitch about her first husband, the boy who wrote her the poems. Apparently, the boy had committed suicide after Blanche caught him having sex with another man. The scene ends with talk of a serious relationship:

MITCH: You need somebody. And I need somebody, too. Could it be--you and me, Blanche?

She stares at him vacantly for a moment. Then with a soft cry huddles in his embrace.

BLANCHE: Sometimes--there's God--so quickly!


A late afternoon in mid-September. Stella is preparing a birthday celebration for Blanche. Stanley returns home and informs Stella that he's been checking up on Blanche, and he's found out that she's pulled the wool over their eyes--that after she lost Belle Reve, she moved into the Hotel Flamingo where she was seen with many different men--that she developed quite a reputation, and that she was finally kicked out of the high school she taught at for having a sexual relationship with a seventeen-year-old boy. Stella reprimands Stanley for spreading rumors about her sister, but admits that some of them may be partly true. She makes him promise to behave tonight as they have invited Mitch over for cake and ice-cream. But Stanley has already told Mitch everything he knows. Stella is furious. But Stanley says Mitch is a good buddy of his and he's not going to let him "jump in a tank with a school of sharks."

Stanley tells Stella that he bought Blanche a bus ticket and is planning to kick her out of the apartment. When Blanche emerges from the bathroom, she can tell by the look on Stella's face that something has happend. Stella attempts to deny it. As Blanche stares fearfully at her, she pretends to be busy at the table.


Three-quarters of an hour later. Stanley, Blanche, and Stella sit silently waiting for Mitch who has, apparently, not yet arrived. Blanche attempts to break the silence with a parrot joke, but no one seems amused. Stella is still furious at Stanley. She calls him a pig and tells him to clear the table, at which point he begins to hurl plates, cups, and saucers to the floor. He then announces, "My place is cleared! You want me to clear your places?" Stella begins to cry and Stanley stalks out onto the porch. Again, Blanche asks what happened while she was bathing, but Stella still denies any knowledge of anything out of the ordinary. Blanche is convinced, however, that Stella knows why Mitch has stood her up. She decides to call him, but there is no answer. Stanley then presents her with a birthday prestent--a ticket back to Laurel on the greyhound bus. Blanche runs into the next room in tears. Stella reprimands Stanley for being so cruel. She says that, as a girl, nobody was as tender and trusting as Blanche, but people like Stanley abused her and forced her to change.


Later that evening. Blanche is alone in the apartment when Mitch arrives, unshaven, in his work clothes. She attempts to kiss him, but he pushes past her into the apartment. He insists on seeing her in the light--says he's never really gotten a good look at her. He confronts her with the accusations Stanley has made against her. She denies them at first, but after Mitch reveals that he has double-checked the story over the phone with several people in Laurel, Blanche admits to having many intimacies with strangers. "After the death of Allan," she says, "intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with." Mitch is furious about all the lies and the pretense of old-fashioned morals. He grabs her and attempts to kiss her, saying he wants what he's been missing all summer. "Then," Blanche says, "Marry me, Mitch!" But he doesn't want to marry her anymore. As he storms out of the house, he exclaims, "You're not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother."


That night--a few hours later. Blanche has been drinking steadily since Mitch's departure. She has been packing her trunk. Stanley appears. He, too, has had a few drinks. He has dropped Stella off at the hospital to have the baby, but it won't come until the morning so he has come home for a few hours. Blanche is frightened at the prospect of spending the evening alone with Stanley, but she feigns indifference. She claims to have received an invitation from Shep Huntleigh to join him on a Caribbean cruise, but Stanley isn't buying her stories anymore. He begins to undress in front of her--puts on the silk pajamas he wore on his wedding night--then rapes her, saying, "We've had this date with each other from the beginning!"


Several weeks later. Stella is packing Blanche's things. Stanley, Steve, Mitch, and Pablo sit around the kitchen table playing poker. Eunice joins Stella and helps her with Blanche's things. Stella confides in Eunice that she doesn't know if she's done the right thing, but she couldn't believe Blanche's story and go on living with Stanley. Eunice comforts her, "Don't ever believe it. Life has got to go on. No matter what happens, you've got to keep on going." Blanche emerges, once more, from the bathroom. Blanche inquires whether they have heard from Shep Huntleigh--she says she is expecting a reply. Stella gently tells her that they have not heard anything yet. She says they have made "arrangements for her to rest in the country." A doctor and a nurse appear around the corner of the building and climb the steps to the porch with the unmistakable aura of the state institution about them. When Blanche sees the Doctor, she stops short and exclaims, "You are not the gentleman I was expecting." She flees into the bedroom. The nurse is sent in after her. Blanche screams and tries to break past the nurse, but the heavy woman catches her and pinions her arms. Finally, the doctor manages to calm her, and as Blanche is led off to the mental institution, she holds tight to the doctor's arm, saying, "Whoever you are--I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." After an awkward moment, the men return to their poker game.


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