-A Streetcar Named Desire-

Scene 10

Several hours later after the incident with Mitch, Blanche is badly drunk and playing dress-up. Blanche’s open trunk sits with clothes hanging out of it in the middle of the bedroom. She imagines herself addressing her admirers. She catches a glimpse of herself in a hand mirror and then slams it down violently, smashing it in the process.

Stanley enters the apartment, also very drunk and carrying several unopened beer bottles. Having been told the baby won’t be born until the morning. He slams the door behind him and giving a low whistle when he sees Blanche decked out in an old white satin evening gown and jewelled party shoes. Blanche asks about Stella, to which Stanley tells her the news that she won’t be back tonight. They will be the only two in the apartment that night.

Stanley asks why Blanche is all dressed up. Blanche tells Stanley that she received a telegram from Shep Huntleigh, inviting her to take a cruise of the Caribbean on his yacht. Stanley plays along, for now. He’s offers Blanche a beer to bury the hatchet and to celebrate their good news, his new baby and her millionaire. Blanche declines Stanley’s offer. She explains that she has nothing suitable to wear on a cruise. As he takes off his shirt, Blanche requests that he close the curtains before finishing undressing, but Stanley says that he’s done for the moment.  He opens a bottle of beer on the corner of the table, then pours the foam on his head. He suggests that he and Blanche each have a beer. The positivity remains.

Stanley changes into his special occasion silk pyjamas that he wore on his wedding night. Blanche continues to talk about Shep Huntleigh, feverishly working herself up as she describes what a gentleman he is and how he merely wants the companionship of an intelligent, spirited, tender, cultured woman. Blanche claims that though she is poor financially, she is rich in spirit and beautiful in mind. Beauty fades, she asserts, but intelligence and breeding do not. ‘How strange I should be called a destitute woman,’ she cries, ‘when I have all these treasures locked in my heart.’ She asserts that she has been foolishly lavishing what she has to offer on those who do not deserve it , ‘casting [her] pearls before swine.’

Upon hearing the word ‘swine’ Stanley’s amicable mood evaporates. Blanche continues, recounting how Mitch arrived earlier that night to accuse her of the slanderous lies that Stanley told him. Blanche continues to say that Mitch returned after Stanley left, and begged for her forgiveness, but she sent him on his way.  She says that she cannot forgive ‘deliberate cruelty,’ and that the two of them are too different in attitude and upbringing for their relationship to work.

Stanley disrupts Blanche’s story to ask if Mitch came by before or after her telegram from Shep Huntleigh. Blanche is caught off guard and forgets what she has said about Shep’s telegram, and Stanley jumps on her mistake. He launches an attack calling her bluff, tearing her story apart from Mitch to Shep. It turns out that Stanley saw Mitch after his encounter with Blanche, so Stanley knows that Mitch is still disgusted with her. All Blanche can say in reply is ‘Oh!’ Stanley finishes his accusation of Blanche with a disdainful laugh and walks through the bedroom into the bathroom

Frightening, sinister shadows and reflections begin to appear on the walls, mimicking Blanche’s nervous movements. Wild, jungle-sounding cries can be heard. His tone becomes menacing and Blanche runs to the phone to try to call Shep Huntleigh. She is terrified, by Stanley and by shadows. She does not know his number or his address, so the operator hangs up on her. Blanche leaves the phone off the hook and walks into the kitchen


The back wall of the Kowalskis’ apartment suddenly becomes transparent, revealing the sidewalk, where a drunkard and a prostitute scuffle until a police whistle sounds and they disappear. Soon thereafter, the Negro woman comes around the corner rifling through the prostitute’s purse.

Even more panicked, Blanche returns to the phone and whispers to the operator to connect her to Western Union. She tries to send a telegraph saying that she needs help desperately and is ‘in a trap,’ but she breaks off when Stanley emerges from the bathroom in his special pyjamas. He stares at her, grinning, while the phone begins to beep. He crosses the room and replaces the phone on the hook. Still grinning, he steps between Blanche and the door. The sound of the piano becomes louder and then turns into the sound of a passing train, disturbing Blanche. When the noise ends, she asks Stanley to let her pass by, and he takes one step to the side. She asks him to move further away, but he stays put and laughs at Blanche for thinking that he will try to prevent her from leaving.

The jungle voices appear as Stanley slowly advances toward Blanche, ignoring her cries that he should stay away. She grabs a bottle and smashes its end on the table, threatening to smash the remaining fragment on Stanley’s face. He observes that she ‘wants some roughhouse’, and he springs at her, forcing her to drop the bottle. She succumbs, and he says that ‘we’ve had this date with each other from the beginning’, as he carries her to the bed. The pulsing music indicates that Stanley rapes Blanche.

Plot Summary

Blanche DuBois, a schoolteacher from Laurel, Mississippi, arrives at the New Orleans apartment of her sister, Stella Kowalski. Despite the fact that Blanche seems to have fallen out of close contact with Stella, she intends to stay at Stella’s apartment for an unspecified but likely lengthy period of time, given the large trunk she has with her. Blanche tells Stella that she lost Belle Reve, their ancestral home, following the death of all their remaining relatives. She also mentions that she has been given a leave of absence from her teaching position because of her bad nerves.

Though Blanche does not seem to have enough money to afford a hotel, she is disdainful of the cramped quarters of the Kowalskis’ two-room apartment and of the apartment’s location in a noisy, diverse, working-class neighbourhood. Blanche’s social condescension wins her the instant dislike of Stella’s husband, an auto-parts supply man of Polish descent named Stanley Kowalski. It is clear that Stella was happy to leave behind her the social pretensions of her background in exchange for the sexual gratification she gets from her husband; she even is pregnant with his baby. Stanley immediately distrusts Blanche to the extent that he suspects her of having cheated Stella out of her share of the family inheritance. In the process of defending herself to Stanley, Blanche reveals that Belle Reve was lost due to a foreclosed mortgage, a disclosure that signifies the dire nature of Blanche’s financial circumstances. Blanche’s heavy drinking, which she attempts to conceal from her sister and brother-in-law, is another sign that all is not well with Blanche.

 The unhappiness that accompanies the animal magnetism of Stella and Stanley’s marriage reveals itself when Stanley hosts a drunken poker game with his male friends at the apartment. Blanche gets under Stanley’s skin, especially when she starts to win the affections of his close friend Mitch. After Mitch has been absent for a while, speaking with Blanche in the bedroom, Stanley erupts, storms into the bedroom, and throws the radio out of the window. When Stella yells at Stanley and defends Blanche, Stanley beats her. The men pull him off, the poker game breaks up, and Blanche and Stella escape to their upstairs neighbour Eunice’s apartment. A short while later, Stanley is remorseful and cries up to Stella to forgive him. To Blanche’s alarm, Stella returns to Stanley and embraces him passionately. Mitch meets Blanche outside of the Kowalski flat and comforts her in her distress.

The next day, Blanche tries to convince Stella to leave Stanley for a better man whose social status equals Stella’s. Blanche suggests that she and Stella contact a millionaire named Shep Huntleigh for help escaping from New Orleans; when Stella laughs at her, Blanche reveals that she is completely broke. Stanley walks in as Blanche is making fun of him and secretly overhears Blanche and Stella’s conversation. Later, he threatens Blanche with hints that he has heard rumours of her disreputable past. She is visibly dismayed.

 While Blanche is alone in the apartment one evening, waiting for Mitch to pick her up for a date, a teenage boy comes by to collect money for the newspaper. Blanche doesn’t have any money for him, but she hits on him and gives him a lustful kiss. Soon after the boy departs, Mitch arrives, and they go on their date. When Blanche returns, she is exhausted and clearly has been uneasy for the entire night about the rumours Stanley mentioned earlier. In a surprisingly sincere heart-to-heart discussion with Mitch, Blanche reveals the greatest tragedy of her past. Years ago, her young husband committed suicide after she discovered and chastised him for his homosexuality. Mitch describes his own loss of a former love, and he tells Blanche that they need each other.


 When the next scene begins, about one month has passed. It is the afternoon of Blanche’s birthday. Stella is preparing a dinner for Blanche, Mitch, Stanley, and herself, when Stanley comes in to tell her that he has learned news of Blanche’s sordid past. He says that after losing the DuBois mansion, Blanche moved into a fleabag motel from which she was eventually evicted because of her numerous sexual liaisons. Also, she was fired from her job as a schoolteacher because the principal discovered that she was having an affair with a teenage student. Stella is horrified to learn that Stanley has told Mitch these stories about Blanche.

The birthday dinner comes and goes, but Mitch never arrives. Stanley indicates to Blanche that he is aware of her past. For a birthday present, he gives her a one-way bus ticket back to Laurel. Stanley’s cruelty so disturbs Stella that it appears the Kowalski household is about to break up, but the onset of Stella’s labour prevents the imminent fight.

Several hours later, Blanche, drunk, sits alone in the apartment. Mitch, also drunk, arrives and repeats all he’s learned from Stanley. Eventually Blanche confesses that the stories are true, but she also reveals the need for human affection she felt after her husband’s death. Mitch tells Blanche that he can never marry her, saying she isn’t fit to live in the same house as his mother. Having learned that Blanche is not the chaste lady she pretended to be, Mitch tries to have sex with Blanche, but she forces him to leave by yelling “Fire!” to attract the attention of passers-by outside.

 Later, Stanley returns from the hospital to find Blanche even more drunk. She tells him that she will soon be leaving New Orleans with her former suitor Shep Huntleigh, who is now a millionaire. Stanley knows that Blanche’s story is entirely in her imagination, but he is so happy about his baby that he proposes they each celebrate their good fortune. Blanche spurns Stanley, and things grow contentious. When she tries to step past him, he refuses to move out of her way. Blanche becomes terrified to the point that she smashes a bottle on the table and threatens to smash Stanley in the face. Stanley grabs her arm and says that it’s time for the “date” they’ve had set up since Blanche’s arrival. Blanche resists, but Stanley uses his physical strength to overcome her, and he carries her to bed. The pulsing music indicates that Stanley rapes Blanche.

The next scene takes place weeks later, as Stella and her neighbour Eunice pack Blanche’s bags. Blanche is in the bath, and Stanley plays poker with his buddies in the front room. A doctor will arrive soon to take Blanche to an insane asylum, but Blanche believes she is leaving to join her millionaire. Stella confesses to Eunice that she simply cannot allow herself to believe Blanche’s assertion that Stanley raped her. When Blanche emerges from the bathroom, her deluded talk makes it clear that she has lost her grip on reality.

The doctor arrives with a nurse, and Blanche initially panics and struggles against them when they try to take her away. Stanley and his friends fight to subdue Blanche, while Eunice holds Stella back to keep her from interfering. Mitch begins to cry. Finally, the doctor approaches Blanche in a gentle manner and convinces her to leave with him. She allows him to lead her away and does not look back or say goodbye as she goes. Stella sobs with her child in her arms, and Stanley comforts her with loving words and caresses.

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