Arousal at the Sight of a Man

         At some point in every woman's life, she becomes excited at the sight of a man. He is good-looking, smart, honest, and very charming. But, what if a woman does this at the sight of any man-young or old, kind or angry, good or bad, and the list goes on. Well, this is the exact situation in Tennessee Williams's 1947 play, A Streetcar Named Desire. In comparison, in Elia Kazan's 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire, the situation is expressed even more so. One single woman, Blanche, played by Vivien Leigh, expresses just how much she can vie for any man.

         The film begins with Blanche first laying eyes on Stanley (Marlon Brando). He has come in from his bowling match and wishes to remove his sweaty t-shirt. Blanche does not hesitate to grant his request. So, right in front of her, her sister, Stella's (Kim Hunter) husband removes his shirt and makes himself comfortable. Blanche looks Stanley up and down, and then a musical note is heard. This same music heard now, is heard throughout the film. It is almost restaurant-like and sets up a mood as if of attraction. Each time Blanche is seen with a man this "attraction" music is played. And each time, Blanche eyes the man up and down, flirts with him, and prances around with a light air about her.

         A young boy-very young (Wright King)--comes out to Stanley and Stella's house taking up a collection for the newspaper, The Evening Star. Blanche is the only one home… we hear the familiar music (it is soft), and Blanche tries to take advantage of the young boy. She kisses him upon the lips. But, she seems rather "out-of-it." Blanche does not seem to have herself together. It is apparent that she wants attention and affection; yet, when one tries to give it to her, she almost backs away, as she does with Mitch (Karl Malden). Mitch comes to her after the young boy; they are dating now, and he tries to kiss her; but she pulls away from Mitch and says she is trying to be a good girl. However, the attraction is there most visibly. And Blanche continues to flirt with Mitch.

         It is later, that Stanley reveals what kind of woman Blanche is. She loves men; just to be with them once pleases her; and, although she has fallen in love with Mitch, the two do not last because Mitch cannot stay with a woman who has lied to hide a past of sleeping around with other men (and many of which were strangers). He is a "good guy," pure in heart. So, Mitch leaves Blanche, and Blanche proceeds to create a story that a young man from Texas, a former beau, Shep Huntleigh, is going to take her on a Caribbean cruise. Then, she goes on to say to Stanley that Mitch has come back and forgiven her. However, none of this is true; Blanche is just obsessed with men.

         Blanche begins her moping process; yet, she constantly thinks about this one man and the trip she is supposed to take with him. Then, we see the point of which Blanche has lost it. Her infatuation with men had led her to insanity, but still a small part of her is infected with that deep (almost too deep) attraction to men.

         In the end the doctor must carry Blanche away. The matron asks if a straight jacket will be needed as Blanche argues that she does not need to leave. But, the kind, old doctor assures her that it will not be necessary as he brings Blanche gently to him for her to lean on his arm. We hear the soft, kind music; Blanche looks up at the doctor sweetly and says, "Whoever you are--I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

         With that said, we can conclude that Blanche may have found her next victim. She falls for the doctor. Although he is an older man, he is very kind and charming. Thus, the sight of a man holds true and the woman's arousal at this, once more, is stirred.

Jonetta Tabor

Table of Contents