It is something that is seen everyday by couples across the nation. Multiple calls are made per minute to report it. But yet, maybe half of those victims will leave and change their lives. Domestic violence is a scary thing, especially when it happens to you. But it still seems that the love for the offender keeps the victim coming back for more…more love, more yelling, more evenings together, and more beatings.
In the play A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947, Stella (Kim Hunter) and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) in Elia Kazan's1951 movie, comprise one of those couples that the never-ending cycle traps. Stella ran away from her home in Mississippi to New Orleans, where she met Stanley and started her new life, and the cycle, in Elysian Fields.
Stupid things like a radio playing or one retort from the other can send someone into a fit of rage. Radios and tables flying, words bouncing from the walls, punches being thrown…it is a whirlwind of a fight that can only last a minute. The aftermath dissolves in tears and promises. The promises are later broken, and the cycle begins again in the same respect, sometimes the same place or a different location.
Stella threw her sister, Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) into confusion and terror when, after Blanche's first exposure to domestic violence, Stella returns to Stanley. The story can be heard around the world:
"You're making much too much fuss about this…In the first place, when men are drinking and playing poker anything can happen. It's always a powder-keg. He didn't know what he was doing…He was as good as a lamb when I came back and he's really very, very ashamed of himself."
"And that--that makes it all right?"
"No it isn't all right for anybody to make such a terrible row, but--people do sometimes."
It leads to the question of how it can be so easy to forgive such an unforgivable act to strike one's lover, especially those carrying one's child. It is not just the physical abuse, but those who abuse by yelling or constantly bringing the other down. It is amazing how Stanley is so quick to fire and so quick to cool off. Put aside the tussled-up room, and it would be a shocker that a storm had blown between the two lovers.
It is amazing why women, such as Stella, who have grown up in seemingly normal households and had seemingly normal childhoods, feel they need to be with someone who treats them like seemingly normal trash that has been kicked to the curb. Some say it is their fault that they had provoked the ordeal and just needed to be reminded where they stood in the scheme of the relationship. Has anyone ever heard more bullsh*t from someone other than a politician?? But yet, it is accepted. It is something that some sits back and says, "Well, some times some one needs knocked around a little to be reminded where they stand"-once again, more BS.
Their families feel for the victims. "Stella: 'I have told you I love him.' Blanche 'Then I tremble for you! I just--tremble for you…'" Finally someone steps up to the plate and tries to open the victim's eyes. Most of the time it is too late. Blanche had started from the first day to try to get Stella to run away with her and away from Stanley, but that urge kept her with him.
In the movie, once Blanche has left, somehow something snaps in Stella; and she decides to leave with the baby. We are prone to believe that perhaps she is not going to return to Stanley and begin a new, freer life without the threat of bodily harm. But as we are show in the play, Stanley's voluptuous demeanor towards Stella in difficult times draws her back into the cycle. Who is to know where her or other victim's lives will lead when the cycle spins into oblivion.