A Streetcar Named Desire | book review

The Synopsis

Down in New Orleans, Stella’s life isn’t so bad. Her lifestyle has significantly changed, but at least she’s got her Stanley. Then her older sister Blanche shows up on her doorstep and things get complicated. Though Blanche isn’t the nicest, Stella is still welcoming and happy to see her. Stanley has other ideas, though — he claims he can see right through Blanche and her innocent disguise. As Blanche seems to descend into a nervous madness, Stanley digs up her past and is determined to get rid of her. Stella isn’t sure who to believe — her hysterical sister, or her not-so-perfect husband.

The Plot

What a quick read! Though it was my first time reading Tennessee Williams, I felt like I’d read the play before. Strange. Nevertheless, it’s now easily one of my favorite plays. A Streetcar Named Desire is comprised of eight scenes, all taking place in New Orleans. The story spans about five months, detailing Blanche’s descent into hysteria. It was certainly not a story I’d pick up on my own, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. By scene two I was engrossed beyond redemption, and I honestly didn’t want the story to end. I’m glad I never studied this particular play in any of my classes; it would have ruined the twists and surprises, and I like discovering that kind of stuff.

The Characters

My first impression of Blanche was that I hated her. She’s the typical older sister, criticizing everything from Sella’s living condition to her weight.

“But you — you’ve put on some weight, yes, you are just as plump as a little partridge! And it’s so becoming to you!”

Right off the bat, you can tell Blanche is an anxious mess and a (poorly disguised) alcoholic. Oh, and she never stops talking.

Unlike Stella, who is more reserved, quiet, and quite obviously sick of her sister’s shit. So of course I liked Stella a lot more than Blanche in the beginning. But as the story progressed, and you realize Stella’s marriage isn’t exactly picture-perfect, my opinion of the woman just goes downhill from there.

Let me take a second now to say SPOILERS AHEAD. Honestly, this is a classic, so if you don’t know about the story yet, well, that’s on you. But if you truly don’t want spoilers, please don’t read any further.

So, as I was saying, my opinion of Stella crashed and burned. First of all, she doesn’t leave her husband after he beats her one night. And this, of course, is nothing new. But I understand being blinded in a relationship and not being able to get out or get help. I get that. Blanche actually tries to get Stella away from Stanley, but Stella is in love. Fine. What I can’t forgive is Stella’s denial that Stanley raped Blanche. Yes, okay, Blanche is kind of crazy, and she’s lied about almost everything since arriving in New Orleans, but what would she gain from lying about being raped? It’s her own sister, for god’s sake.

So I started to feel bad for Blanche and hated her a little less. True, she is a little mental, and she still acts like a snob, but she’s been through quite a bit. What happened with her husband truly messed up her head, and since she didn’t get any kind of mental help, it ruined her. I hate what happened to her at the end of the play, but I guess Stella was just out of options. Or at least that’s what her husband wanted her to think. Stanley is a pretty terrible guy. I really didn’t like any character in this entire play, yet it was an incredible play!

The Writing

Tennessee Williams is a literary God. After reading Streetcar, I’ll definitely be picking up more of his works. He is a master at character development and stringing together an engrossing story. His own life was quite crazy, so I can see where he drew his inspiration from. I’m glad my girlfriend convinced me to read this play — I am in love. 10/10 will read again.

Favorite Quote(s)

“Funerals are pretty compared to deaths. Funerals are quiet, but death — not always.”

“There’s so much — so much confusion in the world.”

*I’m kind of a mess this week since it’s the last week of classes, so forgive my sloppy writing. I’ll be back to tip-top-shape after I graduate. I hope.

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