To Be a Drunk or a Loon

         A Streetcar Named Desire, written in 1947 by Tennessee Williams and filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan, has several interesting characters involved in the storyline. Stanley (Marlon Brando) is a character that can be hated because of his actions, his tone, and his attitude, but at times he can also be caring and helpful. Blanche (Vivien Leigh) seems very intelligent and sensible, but at other times she seems very illogical and rash. These two characters are at both ends of the spectrum.

         Stanley is a Polish descendant who has served in the armed forces. He meets Stella (Kim Hunter) while he is dressed in his military garb. She immediately falls in love with him; so begins their life together. Stanley seems barbaric on their wedding night when he takes off Stella's slipper and runs about the house smashing light bulbs with it; however, Stella finds this very thrilling. Stanley also seems very primitive because he enjoys bowling, which is nothing more than throwing a heavy object as hard as he can down a lane toward ten pins. One time, in the beginning of the play, but not in the movie, he is even depicted as a lion bringing home food because he throws a package of meat at Stella after a hard day's work. During the course of the play and film, he gets drunk on many occasions, which leads to different events happening--once he hits Stella and almost causes her to leave him and another time he rapes Stella's sister, Blanche. Stanley is a very rough character who has no empathy for other people.

         Blanche, on the other hand, is a small, delicate woman. She is shocked when she sees the conditions that Stella has been living in. Stella lives in a very small, two-room house that has a couple living in the quarters above them. However, Stella is shocked by Blanche's lifestyle. Some time after Blanche moves in with her, Stella learns that Blanche drinks a lot of alcohol, has lost her childhood home at Belle Reve, and has been kicked out of a scandalous hotel because of her lifestyle. After living with Stella and Stanley for a while, Blanche starts to change. She is always looking over her shoulder or thinking about her relationship with "the boy" and the tragic ending associated with him. Finally she goes off the deep end, forcing Stella and Stanley to put her in a mental institution.

         Who does Stella more harm? Does Stanley, who abuses her and rapes her sister? Or does Blanche, who loses her childhood home and forces Stella to put her in a mental institution after moving in with her for six months? Does Stella have bad judgments of people or does she just have a soft heart for losers? Which is better--a drunk or a loon?

Ben Hocker

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