Analysis of Blanche and Stella Relationship in a Streetcar Named Desire

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Words: 1002 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Words: 1002|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Introduction: Since the focal theme of “A Streetcar Named Desire” is that of integration and adaptation, Blanche and Stella relationship is important to analyze in this essay. Thesis statement: The function of the relationship between Blanche and Stella is evident: Williams establishes a contrast between them. For example, when Stella says, in Scene One, that ‘the best I could do was make my own living, Blanche’, Williams invites his audience to interpret the social transformation which Stella has undergone. This very base image of having to earn a living contrasts significantly with the image of ‘columns’, which Stanley introduces in Scene Eight. Topic sentence: Stella has been forced to adapt her lifestyle in order to integrate in this modern, male-dominated society. Topic sentence: Blanche, on the other hand, is self-immersed in a world of fantasy – or ‘make-believe’ as she suggests herself in Scene Seven – where she clings on to her past of wealth and comfort. Consequently, Blanche cannot integrate: she does not understand this society, in which she cannot fit, for she is ‘incongruous’, an adjectival choice by Williams which enhances this sense of disconnection from the brutal real world. Evidence & citing: Slight tension is visible in the relationship because of this contrast, for example in Scene Four, where Blanche appeals to her sister that she must have ‘sufficient memory’ of their dreamy (‘Reve’) past in order to find ‘these poker players impossible to live with’. The adjective ‘impossible’ is forceful here, and enhances this sense of incongruity which characterises Blanche; her sister does indeed remember her past, and demonstrates a slight flicker of hope to return to it when she says that waiting on Blanche feels ‘more like home’. However, she has moved-on from it in order to become a working member of her new community. This conflict of ideals creates dramatic tension and irony almost, since the audience knows well that Blanche cannot and never will be a welcomed, and understood, figure in society.

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Topic sentence: Nonetheless, Stella has a privileged access to her sister’s personal heritage: she can sympathise with Blanche’s past and thus makes allowances for her, as she encourages Stanley to do, also. Commentary: This is important in dramatic terms as Williams encourages his audience to take comfort in this sympathetic relationship, which is tested and shattered by the end of the play. Evidence & citing: For example, in response to Stanley’s revelation of Blanche’s somewhat shameful past, Stella is quick to defend her. Blanche, Stella argues, ‘had an experience that – killed her illusions’. The violent verb ‘killed’ is suggestive of the devastating ordeal which Blanche went through and therefore conveys Stella’s knowledge of it. Her affection for Blanche is also communicated through her reaction to the birthday party, to which Mitch does not come. Stella describes how upsetting she found ‘looking at the girl’s face and the empty chair’. The noun ‘girl’ serves as a reminder of Blanche’s child-like innocence, but also suggests a motherly understanding and connection. However, Williams sets-up room for Stella’s betrayal, when she says to Stanley, ‘there are things about my sister I don’t approve of’. The verb ‘approve’ sounds vague and ambiguous, suggesting an uncertain, almost unstable, quality to their relationship. The dramatic effect of this is that Stella is presented as a character who does not always understand or sympathise with Blanche. This, if the ending of this play can be seen as tragic, renders Stella’s choice to side with Stanley over Blanche regarding the rape more predictable and, in a sense, more shocking for the audience.

Topic sentence: Williams presents Stella as a platform on which the conflict between Blanche and Stanley takes place. Evidence & citing: This is effective dramatically because Stella appears not only as a character in the narrative of the play, but also as a symbol of tension and fighting: As Blanche and Stanley’s battleground of sorts, Stella becomes the person on whom they both rely and depend. For example, Stanley’s expression in Scene One, ‘not in my territory’, suggests that Stella is currently in his possession, as though she were the prize of the competitive power-struggle between him and Blanche. This assertion on Stanley’s part poses an initial threat to the relationship between Stella and Blanche, since Stanley phrases it in such a way that intimidates Blanche. He forces her to feel that her sister is, in fact, not so much her sister as Stanley’s wife, to the whole arrangement of which Blanche is quite unaccustomed, thus highlighting her isolation. Later on, Williams shifts the balance of power: in Scene Three, the stage direction ‘Blanche guides her’ suggests that Blanche is now winning the figurative competition against Stanley. The verb ‘guides’ connotes kindness and sisterly support; the visual image on-stage, presumably with Blanche wrapping her arms around Stella, would depict closeness and human intimacy, which contrasts with the image of the much more bestial nature of Stanley’s relationship with Stella, vivified theatrically by their coming together ‘with low, animal moans’. Conclusion paragraph: The end of the play leaves the outcome of this power-struggle questionable, with Stella holding her ‘sobbingly…crying now that her sister is gone’. She appears to finally show remorse for her act of betrayal against Blanche, and so the fact that she is crying places her figuratively back in Blanche’s possession. However, the play ends ironically with Stanley embracing her again, murmuring ‘now love’, where ‘love’ sounds possessive and territorial, as well as comforting. This is effective dramatically because any impact which Blanche has had on their relationship seems to have disappeared and this modern society which Blanche has temporarily invaded returns to its dysfunctional state.


  1. Crandell, G. W. (1997). Misrepresentation and miscegenation: Reading the racialized discourse of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. Modern Drama, 40(3), 337-346.
  2. Corrigan, M. A. (1976). Realism and Theatricalism in A Streetcar Named Desire. Modern Drama, 19(4), 385-396.
  3. Vlasopolos, A. (1986). Authorizing History: Victimization in" A Streetcar Named Desire". Theatre Journal, 38(3), 322-338.
  4. Jacobs, D. (2019). Three's a crowd: Stella's pregnancy and the arrival of an “other” in A Streetcar Named Desire. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 16(3), 174-180.
  5. Panda, R. N. (2016). Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire: A Study in Sexual/Textual Politics. IUP Journal of English Studies, 11(2), 50.

Introduction close-button

Should follow an “upside down” triangle format, meaning, the writer should start off broad and introduce the text and author or topic being discussed, and then get more specific to the thesis statement.

Thesis statement close-button

Cornerstone of the essay, presenting the central argument that will be elaborated upon and supported with evidence and analysis throughout the rest of the paper.

Topic sentence close-button

The topic sentence serves as the main point or focus of a paragraph in an essay, summarizing the key idea that will be discussed in that paragraph.

Evidence & citing close-button

The body of each paragraph builds an argument in support of the topic sentence, citing information from sources as evidence.


After each piece of evidence is provided, the author should explain HOW and WHY the evidence supports the claim.

Conclusion paragraph close-button

Should follow a right side up triangle format, meaning, specifics should be mentioned first such as restating the thesis, and then get more broad about the topic at hand. Lastly, leave the reader with something to think about and ponder once they are done reading.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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How the relationship between Blanche and Stella adds to the dramatic effect in A Streetcar Named Desire. (2023, February 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from
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