Complicated Relationships Of Stella and Stanley Kowalski
The Relationship of Stella and Stanley Kowalski
A Streetcar Named Desire is a play written by Tennessee Williams. It has many underlying themes. A very prominent part of this play is the relationships in it and how they’re portrayed. They’re full of stereotypes, and usually the man is in the more powerful positions. The main plot is about a married couple, Stella and Stanley Kowalski, and how relationships interact with each other when Stella’s sister, Blanche DuBois, comes to visit from their hometown of Belle Reve. Blanche has an overactive imagination from the very start, which takes a toll on the relationship of Stanley and Stella. Ultimately, Stanley seems to have the control in the relationship and Stella rarely has any power, and their relationship seems to go downhill from the start of Blanche’s visit; at some points of the play, it is also considered that Stella mostly stays with Stanley because of pure desire..
From the beginning of the play, Stanley seems to be overbearing when compared to Stella. Stanley was a Master Sergeant in the Engineers Corps, he’s described as jock-like, very built, with animalistic characteristics; this description of Stanley runs true throughout the play (Williams 13). Stanley has the tendency to act violent when he’s drunk, and he’s usually angry or excited, sometimes at Stella, which causes him to lash out. Stella is described as being very delicate and gentle, and could be considered the submissive one in the relationship when compared to Stanley. In the very beginning, Stanley’s wild tendencies are already realized when he yells for Stella, and chucks a whole pack of meat at her with almost no warning; at first, this would mean almost nothing to the reader, but these tendencies already manage to peek through Stanley. As soon as Blanche visits, she starts to make Stella feel bad about leaving her with all the burden, which upsets Stella, and just makes Stanley annoyed. This is the first sign of Stella and Stanley’s relationship splitting apart due to Blanche (37). There are other little hints of Stanley judging Stella for defending Blanche throughout the story.
Stanley tends to have violent tendencies when it comes to Stella. In scene 3, the men are having a poker night, and Stella is with Blanche. Stanley was drinking, and he starting acting mean towards them. It is almost two in the morning, and they’re still playing; Stella asks them to quit after one more hand, and Stanley slaps her thigh, which embarrasses Stella (48). When Stella and Blanche are talking, Stanley yells for them to basically shut up (51). Although Stella tries to yell at Stanley and stand up for herself, it didn’t sway him much. The girls try to play music, and Stanley charges into the room, picks up the radio, and throws it out the window; Stella yells at him, which causes Stanley to charge at her and hit her, despite the fact that she’s pregnant (57). Stella leaves, and within minutes Stanley is back to normal, and begging for her to come back. She takes Stanley back, which goes to show that she obviously relies on him in some way, shape, or form. The pattern seems to be Stanley getting angry, lashing out, and regretting it, and Stella always seems to forgive him. At one point in the story, Stella is talking about their wedding night, and Stanley took her shoe and mashed out all the lightbulbs with the heel of it (64). In another scene, he gets angry and smashes a plate on the ground (107). Overall, Stanley’s tendencies seem to get more prominent, and even more more violent, until the end of the play is reached.
Their relationship also seems to be driven by desire. After Stanley hits Stella during their poker night, Stella has a conversation with Blanche on why she stays with him. Blanche tells her that she understand why she stays with Stanley; he’s all man, and Stella was obviously driven by desire. However, Blanche doesn’t understand why she stays with him despite his violent tendencies. Stella says it’s because of what happens “in the dark” that makes everything else unimportant (70). Later in the play, when Stella and Stanley’s relationship has already been fractured by Blanche’s visit, Stanley tells her he can’t wait for her to leave and for the baby to be born, so they can “make noise in the night” again (109). This feeling of desire seems to be the only thing holding Stella and Stanley together, and it seems to be quite the disillusion to Stella. However, they continue to stay together and Stella continues to be influenced by Stanley. This is true throughout the play, including at the end of it, when Blanche goes with the doctors. Stella regrets the decision, but by then it’s too late (141). From the very beginning to the very end of the play, Stella seems to be making decisions based on Stanley, which shows that Stanley has the power in the relationship.
For the most part, Stanley has the power in their relationship, but there are times Stella stands up for herself or Blanche, or puts herself first. When Blanche is in the bathroom, Stanley starts judging her belongings, which ultimately leads to Stella yelling at him and telling him to go outside with her while Blanche gets dressed. Stanley asks Stella when she started giving him orders, which shows that the tables are turning, and Stanley is used to having the power (37). Later in the play, Stanley is trying to disprove all of Blanche’s lies based on the information he gathered. Stella is fed up with Stanley’s accusations, and defends Blanche’s name (102). Although Stella does have moments when she has the power, for the most part Stanley controls her. This says that Stella, again, stays with Stanley for certain reasons, specifically for the desirable parts of it.
Stanley and Stella seem to have a complicated relationship, but it isn’t really pointed out until Blanche comes to visit. It seems to be more on the abusive side, but Stella stays with him because of desire. Stella sometimes has the courage to make decisions or yell at Stanley, but for the most part, Stanley seems to have all the control. Despite this cracked relationship that only becomes further broken due to Blanche, they end up staying together, and Stella is never told about when Stanley raped Blanche. Once Blanche is out of their lives, Stanley tries to comfort Stella. Stanley refers to this situation as a game of seven card stud, which is a game of poker. Poker is literally won by lying; however, Blanche happened to lose, and Stanley won. Throughout the play, Stanley managed to convince Stella to do such a horrible thing of sending her away to the mental asylum, but by the end he wins. By the last line, it is implied that things will go back to normal, Stanley will continue doing everything in order to keep Stella, and their relationship will be back to the way it was.
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