It seems like most of our readings have some how involved the antagonistic male character whose sole motive is to cause physical or mental harm and anguish on other characters. This is certainly true in Tennessee Williams' 1947 play, A Streetcar Named Desire. Stanley Kowalski is the one character from the entire semester that will forever carry the worst reputation. He hits his pregnant wife and rapes her sister. It does not get much worse than that. While I do not condone or defend Stanley's actions one bit, I cannot get over the idea that really Blanche DuBois, Stanley's sister-in-law and rape victim, is the big troublemaker of the play.
In the 1951 film version of A Streetcar Named Desire (directed by Elia Kazan) viewers see the very attractive Stanley (Marlon Brando) as a simple man living a simple, but satisfying life with his wife Stella (Kim Hunter) in New Orleans. One day his simple life meets a bump in the road. Stella's sister Blanche (Vivien Leigh) arrives in town, unannounced and uninvited. Stanley is a good sport and allows Blanche to stay with him and Stella for a while until she can get back on her feet after losing the family estate. However, Stanley is quick to have suspicions about Blanche, and he never fully believes anything she says. Stanley is the only one who sees through Blanche's stories.
Blanche never shows an ounce of respect towards Stanley. We see what bad a temper Stanley can have when he attacks Stella after Blanche was playing music during his poker game. But, he probably never would have had the outburst if Blanche had just left Stanley and his pals alone. Also, the rape, obviously, would have never happened if Blanche had never intruded on Stanley and Stella's life. I truly believe Stanley, Stella, and eventually the baby, would have led a very happy, satisfying life together if Blanche had never been a part of anything.
It is difficult to blame Blanche for all her problems. She clearly has suffered from traumatic psychological damage. But, I can only feel sorry for her for so long before she becomes simply too helpless and unworthy of sympathy. Maybe Blanche would have been better off is she had simply gone to a totally new city where she knew no one and could completely start anew. Or, maybe her little trip to the loony bin is really the best thing for her.