A Streetcar Named Desire: Character Profiles
Blanche DuBois: Blanche DuBois is the elder sister of Stella. She comes from Mississippi to stay at the apartment of her sister and brother-in-law in New Orleans. Blanche is a sensitive, highly-strung woman of about thirty. She is aware that she is getting older and worries about losing her beauty. To assuage her anxiety, she seeks out compliments on her appearance. In the decaying environment in which she finds herself, she is very aware of her more refined, aristocratic background. She objects to Stanley because he is common. As the play develops, it transpires that she has had a very troubled history. The family fortune vested in the plantation at Belle Reve, in Mississippi, was squandered and the house has been taken over by creditors. Blanche married young and the marriage had a disastrous outcome when her husband, whom she discovered in a homosexual act, shot himself. Blanche then developed a local reputation for being promiscuous and she was forced to leave the high school where she taught English because of an affair with a seventeen-year-old boy. Blanche is like a ship without an rudder. She hopes to find safe harbor with Mitch, but the budding romance fails when Stanley reveals her past to him. She is then devastated when Stanley presents her with a bus ticket home. Her gradual mental deterioration culminates in the final scene where she is committed to an institution. She is lost in some kind of fantasy world in which she does not know the difference between reality and illusion.
Stanley Kowalski: Stanley Kowalski is married to Stella. He is of Polish descent, but prides himself on being an American. Stanley is strongly built, and coarse in manners and sense of humor. Blanche calls him an animal or a cave man. Stanley’s pleasure has always been women, and the sexual pleasure he can give and take. He likes to drink, and has a rowdy group of male friends. He is also quick-tempered, and when he does not get his way he reacts violently. He believes that the man should be master in his own house. During one outburst, he strikes Stella but then is remorseful and wants her back. In other incidents, he throws a radio out of the window, and sweeps cups and saucers to the floor. He does not like to be challenged. Whatever his faults, Stanley is full of uninhibited masculine energy that Stella finds alluring, and that is why she loves him. But Stanley behaves cruelly toward Blanche, finding out about her past and telling Mitch about it. Stanley believes that Blanche is responsible for disturbing his happiness with Stella. On her birthday, he causes her anguish by presenting her with a bus ticket home. When Stella is in the hospital giving birth to their child, Stanley rapes Blanche. But he gets away with it because Stella refuses to believe Blanche’s story.
Stella Kowalski: Stella Kowalski is Blanche’s younger sister, who is married to Stanley. The sexual attraction between Stella and her husband is strong, and although Stanley is coarse in his manners and aggressive, Stella remains in love with him. She has adjusted well to the difference in their social backgrounds and appears to be happy with her lot, in spite of Stanley’s violent outbursts. She refuses to believe Blanche’s story that she was raped by Stanley, and arranges for Blanche to be committed to an institution. However, she feels guilty over her actions.
Mitch: Mitch is a close friend of Stanley’s. They were in the army together and they work for the same company. Mitch is a member of the mens’ poker-playing group. Mitch is a shy man, less uncouth than the others, and still very attached to his mother. He falls for Blanche, but then rejects her when he discovers her unsavory past. He is tormented when he sees her being taken away to the institution, and blames Stanley for her fate.
Pablo: Pablo is a friend of Stanley’s and a member of their poker group.
Steve: Steve is one of Stanley’s poker-playing friends. He is married to Eunice. They have a stormy relationship rather like that between Stella and Stanley.
Eunice: Eunice is married to Steve. They live in the apartment above the Kowalskis.
A Doctor: The Doctor appears in the last scene to take Blanche to the mental institution. He is surprisingly gentle with Blanche, and she allows him to lead her away.
A Nurse: The Nurse accompanies the doctor to take Blanche to the mental institution. In her severe dress, she looks sinister.