A Weakness Named Desire

        A Streetcar Named Desire was a play written in 1947 by Tennessee Williams. In 1951 the play was adapted into a film, which was directed by Elia Kazan. This is a story that holds many morals and themes. Blanche Dubois (Vivien Leigh) and Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) are the two main characters who are controlled by their forceful desires. The inability to control their burning desires proves to be both characters weakness as the story unfolds.

        Blanche is so terribly caught up in her own delusions of grandiosity that she is out of touch with reality. She is constantly touching up her makeup, drinking, and depending on others compliments to sustain some sort of well being. A scene at the end of the movie, after Mitch (Karl Malden) called her too “unclean” to marry, showed her dancing around her room in her fanciest clothing, talking to herself in a proper fashion (as if nothing had happened). Her main weakness was that she desired to be desired. She longed for the attention of a man regardless of if she cared about him or not. I do not believe that she truly cared about Mitch for one second. However, she cared very much about the way in which he thought of her. Ultimately, her desire (or dependence) for men to swoon over her led to her psychological meltdown.

        Brando’s portrayal of Stanley is much more subdued than the play originally expresses this character. In my opinion, this was so because Marlon Brando was seen as such a “dream-boat; and no one wanted to see him, in all his gorgeousness, playing Stanley as vicious as he should have been portrayed. Stanley is Blanche’s brother-in-law in the story. He verbally and physically abuses his wife, Stella (Kim Hunter), yet their relationship remains due to their strong sexual desire for one another. Stanley has a few desires, and or weaknesses, of his own; one of which being alcohol abuse. Another is his strong desire for control. This is shown through his abusive nature toward his wife and in the end when he rapes Blanche. Rape is primarily about control and dominance. In the end of the film Stella leaves Stanley, but she only goes to her upstairs neighbors house. This leads me to believe that she will probably return to Stanley because her desire for him is also very strong, and very much a weakness.

        This story is very relatable, maybe not in such an extreme manner, however. Blanche’s aversion to all things based in reality can be translated to society today. Pictures in magazines, on television and even on Facebook are not always representative of reality. Many individuals touch up their image here and there to make themselves more “presentable.” This is much like the fear Blanche had of anyone seeing her undone or in true bright light, without a lampshade. The light is a symbol of reality, and the lampshade she purchased is symbolic of the way she desired to be seen, unrealistically


Sarah Willig

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