When Opposites Attract

        In the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire, directed by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams’ 1947 play, we see a perfect example of two people who are polar opposites that are attracted to one another. Blanche, played by Vivien Leigh, is very much the party girl. Mitch, depicted by Karl Malden, is a truly good man. They are attracted to one another and Mitch is always honest and decent, while Blanche’s character is often called into question.

        She has many men in her life, a number of whom have given her extravagant gifts. However, she is not well thought of in her community because there are so many men in her life. She married a much younger man who then committed suicide, leaving her a widow. While she is a flirt, she is also a drinker, which we see throughout the movie. She alternately flirts and demeans her sister’s husband, Stanley (Marlon Brando), which has very violent results. Blanche is a very emotionally fragile woman who often needs a protector.

        Mitch, on the other hand, is a truly decent man who is often found taking care of others. He lives with his ill mother and takes care of her, so he is often the first man out of the weekly card games at Stanley’s home. Until the end, when he feels betrayed, he is always honest, decent, and kind to Blanche, which definitely adds to his appeal. Mitch also treats women with the respect that they deserve. He is always willing to step in to defend a woman even going so far as to step between Stanley (Marlon Brando) and Stella when Stanley takes after her one night.

        Mitch asked very little of Blanche other than that she be honest with him. He does not ask much more than that. It is not important to him that she is a little older than he thought, but what does bother him are her relationships with other men and the fact that she has not been honest and straightforward with him. He feels as though she has lied to him and that she is no longer worthy of being his wife.

Heather Tromble

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