Senseless Stella

     People often get married, and they seem that they are completely unhappy and that their marriage is a worthless joke. Sometimes the relationships are abusive, and other times they are just impossible. By impossible, I mean that the couple rarely get along and spend most of their time bickering instead of enjoying themselves. In Tennessee Williams' 1947 play and Elia Kazan's screen version in 1951 (which are quite similar) of A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella seems to be caught in a relationship where she is unhappy.

     Stella is a strong woman that will speak her mind to her husband, but he always seemed to come right back and belittle her. Her sister comes and causes an uproar, but it seemed to me that the real problem between Stanley (Marlon Brando) and Stella (Kim Hunter), started long before this. However, when they fight and Stella "leaves him," she always comes right back when he starts whining and screaming at her. I sensed that she always went back to him for other reasons than love.

     A few scenes in particular, especially in the film, made me question their relationship and the foundation of that relationship. It was as if they were together out of loneliness and support for the wrong reasons. Often, Stanley would make harsh, almost abusive statements to Stella and tell her what her responsibilities were. One scene in particular sticks out in my mind where he slaps her, then later tells her everything will be all right after her sister is gone and their baby is born. This is a typical line used by abusive boyfriends/husbands, and in my opinion is enough grounds to leave Stanley.

     When watching the movie, I did not see many differences between the play and the film. This was a definite plus because it made the film much easier to follow. The characters fit the roles well and were very much as I had pictured them. Vivien Leigh did a wonderful job playing Stella's sister that has gone mad and is desperate for support and companionship. Kim Hunter was young Stella and looked like a woman that needed to take the step toward freedom, and push off on her own (as we have seen many of the women in our stories this semester do). Stanley, played by Marlon Brando, was the perfect hunk that looked great but acted horrible (in my opinion) to his wife.

     A Streetcar Named Desire is a great play and was converted to a realistic film that symbolizes life in our society. Often, women are in bad relationships, but they stay with the jerk because it seems easier, and he will change someday. In reality, we see the statistics of spouse abuse and the number of divorces today. Too many people get married for the wrong reasons, and it seemed to me that Stella and Stanley fall right into that category. Stella always played her little role as a happy wife, but I got the feeling that she was truly unhappy and was just too stupid to leave him.

Alison Brandow

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