SYNOPSIS | AUTHOR BIO | QUOTES
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 Mitchdrops
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 deathsnot 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
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 Inever 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
fornicationsto put it plainly! The four-letter word deprived
us of our plantation, till finally all that was leftand
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 themcommit
them to memory, even! I think it's wonderfully fitting that Belle
Reve should finally be this bunch of old papers in your big,
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 affairsespecially 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 radiowhich 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 darkthat sort
of make everything else seemunimportant.
BLANCHE: What you are talking
about is brutal desirejustDesire!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 herewhere
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
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
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.
BIO | QUOTES