Stella and Blanche: Women of Abuse

         Streetcar Named Desire, directed in 1951 by Elia Kazan and based on Tennessee Williams's 1947 play, is similar to battered women in today's society. The main storyline of Tennessee Williams's work was about low self-esteemed women being verbally and physically abused by men. As in today's society, many women have been in an abusive relationship or have experienced some circumstance of being hurt. As in many of the same abusive relationships, the woman will stay with the abusive partner. The character Stella Kowalski, played by Kim Hunter, is married to a rude and arrogant husband, Stanley Kowalski, ably portrayed by Marlon Brando. Brando does a fabulous job playing a mean, selfish, and hurtful husband to the naïve and sweet wife named Stella.

         For example, in several scenes Stanley is heard yelling at Stella and hitting or shaking her viciously. Stella's older sister, Blanche DuBois, depicted by Vivien Leigh, did a wonderful job trying to be the protector and advisor for her sister's safety and well-being. When Stella arrived at the Kowalski's residence, Stella tried to convince her sister she could do better than being married to Stanley. Another scene that showed Blanche's comfort and support was after Stanley had broken the window with throwing out the radio onto the street. Several times, Blanche confronted her sister with the harsh environment that she was living in with her abusive husband. However, in many situations the victim does not want to listen to anyone, and this is a similar scenario with Blanche and Stella.

         Anther example of battered women in today's society was Blanche's personality and ways. Vivien Leigh portrayed a lonely admired woman who sought out for desperate attention. After being with numerous men, Blanche felt worthless and needed the security of men. She wished nothing but love and attraction towards males and especially with Harold Mitchell, ably portrayed by Karl Malden. Mitchell was smitten with Blanche, and he wanted a serious relationship. However, Blanche wanted to play hard to get and resulted in hurting the relationship in the end with the lack of honesty. Blanche desired the attention from Mitchell; and, when she succeeded, she seemed not interested. For example when Mitchell and Blanche were at the dock at night, Mitchell tried desperately to kiss Blanche; but she turned away.

         Both Stella and Blanche seem like a typical woman in today's society that have low self-esteem and wish to have the protection of a partner.

Kyla DeHay

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