Sisterly Love

         Blood is thicker than water, and that means it is hard to separate those of the same blood, parents, brothers, and sisters. One is supposed to stand by one's family, never choosing another one over the family and never hurting another one in the family. Yet, with A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1951, he shows that there many faces of a family and that sisterly love is not the strongest suit of Blanche Dubois (Vivien Leigh in the 1951 movie version, directed by Elia Kazan).

         Stella Kowalski (Kim Hunter) is the younger sister of Blanche, who has left their former manor in Mississippi to live in New Orleans with her husband and lover, Stanley (the young, handsome Marlon Brando). Ever since Stella left the manor to create and live her own life, Blanche has had a rough life in Laurel (according to the play) and Oriel (according to the movie), Mississippi. She has had to witness the deaths of their parents, the loss of their home, and the loss of her reputation. When Blanche loses her job as an English teacher because of inappropriate relations with a student, she decides to visit her dear sister, Stella, in the Big Easy.

         She arrives to find her little sister in a "house" that is far below their station that she was used to in Mississippi. Stella and Blanche quickly catch up on the past, which is the point that Blanche begins to show her sisterly love. Blanche lies when she reveals that she is only on a leave of absence since her nerves are shot after dealing with the loss and pain alone. She begins to rub in Stella's nose that she had to handle everything to do with their home, Belle Reve. When Stella tries to react and comfort Blanche, Blanche turns it around and claims Stella is blaming her for the loss of the Belle Reve.

         Also during her stay in the moist New Orleans, Blanche seductively flirts with Stella's hunky husband, asking him to button up her dress when she could easily have had Stella do it. Blanche is always spraying her perfume in his face, walking around in inappropriate clothing, and always angering him. It is said one aggravates the ones one loves. It is obvious that Stanley is below Blanche in her eyes, yet she envies Stella because she has had something that Blanche does not have, a man, though rough, who loves her very much. When Blanche is raped by Stanley, it is not for sure who is at blame or even if it is rape. She has teased and taunted him her whole stay, and she is used to that behavior from her stay at The Flamingo Hotel. Some say she has deserved it for her treatment of Stella and Stanley, lying about her promiscuous past and her flaunting around Stanley. If blood is thicker than water, then why does Blanche try to enter territories all ready claimed by her sister. True, it would be hard not to be attracted to Stanley, but that does not give her the right to intrude upon their relationship.

         It is easy to see that, while Blanche cares for Stella because she tries to protect her from Stanley during one of his drunken rages. But one has to wonder if she is protecting Stella or trying to win home field advantage to get Stanley. Either way one goes, Blanche does not display the sisterly love as strongly as her sister, who has opened her home to her, allowed her to live with her, and allowed her to speak as she wished. Sisterly love goes along way if both sides give and take a little, but Blanche does not understand the way it works.

Sarah Chandler

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