Review: ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams

Welcome back for another review 🙂 I’ve wanted to read this play for ages, so when my boyfriend loaned me a copy I was finally forced to give it a go.

This well-known play by Tennessee Williams focuses on the life of Blanche DuBois, a woman who has suffered many personal losses down South, and moves in with her poor sister, Stella, and Stella’s husband, Stanley. Blanche has lost her family home, and arrives to her sister distraught and in need of help, having no money to her name and various debts.

However, as a former Southern Belle she is disgusted at the state in which she finds her sister, and insists on continuing with her haughty, spoilt ways, despite her current situation. For example, she continues to have long baths and make herself up as if she were still rich, and the sense she has of her own importance is both amusing and annoying.

As soon as she moves in with the couple, Stella’s husband has suspicions about his sister-in-law, and he makes it his mission to find out just why she has run away from Mississippi and moved in with them. Uncovering gossip, rumours and stories as he attempts to find out Blanche’s true motives for running to her sister, it becomes clear that Blanche had no choice but to leave Mississippi.

A theme which runs throughout this play is the uncertainty of what is truth and what is lies, culminating in a dramatic ending which leaves the audience wondering just how much of what they heard was true, and how much was simply in Blanche’s head, or fabricated by Stanley to get full control of his wife once more.

I really enjoyed this play. I thought that the conflict between Stanley and Blanche was interesting to read, and I can imagine this is a great text to study, as there are lots of theories as to their conflict, as well as the representations of Blanche, Stanley and Stella within society.

I couldn’t help but see this play as commenting to some extent on the position of women in society, and the ending in particular draws some alarming conclusions regarding one person’s word above another’s, and the gender implications of this.

I can’t decide how I feel about the character of Blanche. On the one hand she was annoying and spoilt, and so vain. But then as I slowly began to hate Stanley more and more, I started to see how she could be seen as the victim of the play.

Stella was equally frustrating in her acceptance of Stanley’s behaviour, and the way in which she offered little resistance to his violent outbursts. However, again she can be seen as a victim, and her voicelessness could represent a greater issue in society.

Overall this was an enjoyable play, and brought up some interesting questions about who’s word should be trusted in society. As one of Tennessee Williams’ most famous plays, I could definitely see what all the fuss was about.

Have you read this play? Have you studied any of Tennessee Williams’ plays? What do you think of the main characters in this play?

Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Happy reading x

Picture credits here

36 thoughts

  1. I remember reading this play in high school and watching the short film. It was interesting and we picked apart a lot of the themes to understand it more. For some reason the character names really stuck in my memory.
    Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is a remarkable play (I’ve read it, seen it at the theatre and watched the movie many times). It has so many issues weaved carefully into the narrative and Marlon Brando (in his film version of the play) is incredible as Stanley who is a brute but also complex. I’m so glad you read it — it’s so worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! 🙂
    I haven‘t read this play but I want to! So far I‘ve only read french plays but that‘s already a long time ago. I need to read more classics but I‘m kind of intimidated by them. But one day I will read some of them!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t recall reading any of Tennessee William’s works, but it’s been a while since I took any lit classes. I do not do much reading (above the level of Llama Llama that is), but look forward to getting back into it. I may have to add this to my list… or just cheat and watch the movie! If I read the play first I’m sure I’ll hate the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this review!! I had to read this in senior year of high school, and I remember how much we analyzed it and talked about the themes and characters. It’s been about four years since then, and I don’t remember too much about it – just the basics, but your review makes me want to reread it! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This part just called on to my soul :

    A theme which runs throughout this play is the uncertainty of what is truth and what is lies, culminating in a dramatic ending which leaves the audience wondering just how much of what they heard was true, and how much was simply in Blanche’s head, or fabricated by Stanley to get full control of his wife once more.

    Epic review! I’m adding this now to my tbr list!

    Liked by 1 person

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