Good Girls Like Bad Boys, But Bad Boys Find Good Girls

     The actor Marlon Brando plays the very violent Stanley Kowalski in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire. The film is based on the 1947 play by Tennessee Williams, in which Stanley is married to the very timid Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter). If the saying, "Good girls are attracted to bad boys" were true, then this would lead one to assume that it was Stella that had initiated the relationship with violent Stanley. I believe that it was Stanley who had initiated the relationship with Stella because he had seen that she could be easily removed from her family and into his sado-masochistic world.

     From the beginnings of the play and the movie, one can tell that Stanley is going to be the hard-edge, wife-beater-type. The way Stanley comes home in the play, yelling to Stella that he has brought home the meat and is heading to the bowling alley with the guys for a beer is the first clue. In the movie, a similar clue comes at the bowling alley when, in front of Stella and Blanche (Vivien Leigh), he starts a fight with his bowling partners. Blanche seems appalled by Stanley's actions and wonders if her sister has married a wild beast. Stella makes up some "boys will be boys" excuse, but it is obvious that she is embarrassed by his actions. Blanche then tells Stella that she has lost Belle Reve, their beloved home in Laurel (Oriel in the film), because she could not make the payments. Blanche blames Stella for losing Belle Reve, saying that, if she had not eloped to New Orleans with Stanley, then Belle Reve would still be theirs. Stella, not caring about her family enough to stay and take of business, led me to believe that Stanley filled her head with lies to take her away from Belle Reve.

     Then Blanche talks about the run-down apartment in which Stella and Stanley reside, and how it is nothing like what Stella described in her letters. This led me to believe Stanley had promised Stella a life he could not afford and never planned to be able to.

     The next sado-masochistic act from Stanley comes when they arrive home from the bowling alley, and he starts telling Blanche about the Napoleonic Code, under which he is entitled to half of his wife's estate. When she reports that she has never heard of a Napoleonic Code, he throws her clothing all over the room looking for title papers in her suitcase. This was just the first of a series of events in which Stanley shows his abusive nature. The same night, Stanley goes through Blanche's suitcase and tosses a radio out the window and then punches Stella for trying to end his poker game.

     All these abusive actions happen the first night Blanche meets Stanley: what a first impression he makes on her! The next night, while eating dinner, Stanley gets mad at Stella and Blanche and throws his plate across the room and knocks everything in his section of the table, claiming that he has cleaned his area. This is the act of a truly insane animal or a child. It is almost as if he has total control over Stella because she allows or wants him to control her. It seems as if she blames herself for his actions.

     At the end of the movie, when Blanche is taken away to a mental ward, Stella vows to herself that she and her baby have to leave Stanley. However, Stella cannot leave the abusive relationship she is in and does not even try to do so in the play. She is trapped in a vicious cycle of abuse and neglect. Abuse is all Stella knows because it surrounds her daily life. Even her neighbors above her are in an abusive relationship. That is why she has grown accustomed to getting hit and verbally assaulted and then accepts Stanley's meaningless apologies. She had married him at a young age and will probably die as a result of him at a young age.

Cullan Couleas

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