The Hidden Love Story in A Streetcar Named Desire

        In the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan and based on the 1947 play written by Tennessee Williams, was a truly fantastic adaptation of the original play. The cast was fantastic and really gave the story a realness that cannot always be found in adaptations of plays. The chemistry between the two main characters of Blanche Dubois (Vivien Leigh) and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) really jumped out at me throughout the film. I do not remember feeling any kind of blooming romance in the play, but the film really seemed to give subtle hints as to the underlying feelings between Blanche and Stanley.

        It started in the beginning when Stanley comes home to find his wife's (Kim Hunter) sister standing in his house. As he takes off his shirt, revealing a very masculine physique, we get a shot of Ms. Blanche DuBois looking shocked and yet curious at the same time. I noticed a look of longing coming from Blanche and then, at the same instant a turn to disgust at his rudeness. This first encounter seemed to foreshadow the relationship to come.

        Throughout the rest of the film I found slight glances coming from both Blanche and Stanley. I believe that in reality they were quite attracted to one another. Each person was the other‘s arch enemy and yet they both found an unbelievable attraction to one another. Stanley was everything that Blanche did not want. He was in her own words “common” “and Apeish.” He was disrespectful and not at all chivalrous, and yet there seemed to be something that she could not resist. Even when he became violent she would first look at him a sort of awe, which would always turn to disgust quickly, as if she were correcting herself in her feelings towards him.

        I found the same with Stanley and his connection to Blanche, which was at times fiery and passionate. He seemed to give her the same longing glance when he first walked in and saw her standing in his house. And part of me wonders if his removal of clothing was not perhaps a little for show--his. This was his subtle way of giving her something to react to. And I also think that the main reason he pushed Mitch (Karl Malden) so hard to give up on Blanche perhaps had more to do with jealousy than concern for a friend. I think Stanley knew that she was harmless really, but he could not stand to see her with anyone else. And yes we are taught that rape has to do with wanting power and control, and that it has less to do with love and sex. However, in this particular case of rape, I wonder if Stanley was just trying get what he had wanted from the beginning.

        I do not think that this love story was a beautiful one, rather a frightful one; but I do think that there were more underlying feelings between the two characters than meet the eye. This is an opinion, however, that could be argued with quite a lot of validity. There are no real defining moments that lead one to believe that there is this love between Stanley and Blanche; but I also think that, if we look more closely at the movie, perhaps we may find some unanswered questions regarding the perhaps erotic relationship between Stanley and Blanche.

Kristin Meschler

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