The Cycle of Desire

        Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play entitled A Streetcar Named Desire. In 1951 Elia Kazan produced the film adaptation to Williams’ play. This tale spoke of Stanley (Marlon Brando) and his pregnant wife, Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter). In my opinion, this is by far the most enjoyable story we read during this course. The relationship Stanley and Stella shared was very peculiar, but surprisingly not as uncommon as many people may assume.

        Stanley would spend many nights playing cards and drinking in the couple’s small home. After getting “rowdy” with the boys, he would inevitably get into a brawl with Stella. After verbal and physical abuse, she would, temporarily, be upset with her husband. He would cry and beg for her forgiveness; and, of course, she was quick to forgive. Things would be happy for a few days, and then it would start again. This is a very common cycle of abuse.

        There are three stages to this cycle. First is the tension-building phase. This phase was exaggerated when Stella’s sister Blanche (Vivien Leigh) moved into the couple’s small home. The second phase is the battery phase. Whether this came out in physical or emotional abuse, it was only a matter of time before the tension would explode inside of Stanley; and he would take it out on the two women in the home. The third phase is known as the honeymooning phase. This is what keeps Stella coming back for more. Stanley will feel remorse for his actions and beg for her forgiveness. This leads to momentary blissful love and desire, until the tension builds and the cycle begins all over again.

        Many readers may wonder why in the world Stella stays with this loaded cannon? This is a legitimate question; however, for victims of this abuse things are not so crystal clear. It takes some sort of break in the cycle. This break could have occurred at the end of the story, however, we can never be certain. Did Stella leave Stanley for good? I hope that she had had enough strength to break the cycle, but I am not so sure.

Sarah Willig

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