A Streetcar to Hell

         After watching Elia Kazan's 1951 film, A Streetcar Named Desire, I feel I have learned all I need to know as a Psychology major. The Tennessee Williams 1947 play revolves around Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh), the manic depressive sister of Stella (Kim Hunter). Stella has married a man named Stanley (Marlon Brando), whom her sister has never met. Since he is the hunk that he is, it seems as if Blanche falls for him.

         Throughout the film, Blanche and Stanley are at each other's throats. Stanley wants her out of their house. He has caught onto her made-up stories and lies. When he confronts Blanche about it, she acts as if she has no clue what he is talking about. In the core phase of bi-polar disease, the person is very unstable. He or she will have major mood changes. In the film, Blanche is fluttering from room to room, babbling and carrying on about nothing at all. She talks so fast one can hardly understand her.

         Stella starts to notice strange things about Blanche. Stanley tries to tell her many times about how crazy Blanche is, but Stella would not believe such a thing about her loving sister. When Blanche begins caking on the lies and stories about her old boyfriend taking her on a cruise, Stella starts to wonder what is going on with her. She becomes worried and calls a doctor.

         Stella and Stanley confront her about her stories as if they do not believe her. She loses her grip on reality and goes back to dressing in her "precious gems" and furs. Manic depressive people live in their own world. They do not believe in reality, nor do they believe in their illness. They love being in control. Blanche takes control of their lives throughout the story. She takes over their house and belongings. She tries compelling Stella to leave Stanley, the only person she has in her life. When Blanche finds out Stella is pregnant, she almost loses her mind. She seems surprised, but deep down she wants Stella to leave Stanley.

         This story is a great film to show Psychology majors if they need to know about Bi-Polar Disorder. Blanche is a great example of manic depression at its worst. Vivien Leigh does a magnificent job of presenting the disease. The signals are tremendous, and it is good that Stella pointed them out before it got too late. Or was it too late already?

Caitlin Summers

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