A Streetcar Named Desire Quotations & Analysis

Character + page Quote Analysis
Title A Streetcar Named Desire Metaphorical – Blanche’s desires are what brought her not just to New Orleans but to her current lowly state. The fact it is a streetcar shows that it is inescapable and inevitable, she can’t get rid of her desire or fate.
Stage directions p.1 “a street in New Orleans which is named Elysian Fields” Ironic; New Orleans is a working-class area and is named after a heaven where heroes are sent in Greek mythology
Stage directions p.1 “White frame” “faded white” “white building” “peculiarly tender blue” “turquoise” “lyricism” “warm breath” Vs. “weathered grey” “dim white” “atmosphere of decay”   Contrast between beauty and ugliness Beauty is fading Destruction of old south and birth of New south?   “peculiar tender blue sky’ is engulfing the old south giving birth to the new south       The oxymoron ‘dim white’ shows that purity and whiteness is fading.
Stage directions about Blanche p.3 “Her appearance is incongruous to this setting”   “she is daintily dressed” “delicate beauty” and draped in “white”         “moth”         “her delicate beauty must avoid a strong light”   Classism – she’s clearly from upper class and she is disgusted by the diversity   Williams evokes images of purity and fragility within her character this however juxtaposes the ‘weathered’ and warm depiction of New Orleans emphasising the significance of Blanche’s entrance as she represents the traditional ‘pure’ values of the Deep South.   Fragile, vulnerable and attracted to danger just like a moth to fire. Moreover, the fragility in Blanche’s pure appearance is tainted by Williams metaphor of her ‘moth-like’ character   Here the motif of light starts reflecting the truth and reality of the new south and Blanche’s refusal to accept it. This links to the idea of expressionism vs realism presented in the play, as B. is an expressionist character in a realist play which theatrically puts her out of place and reflects the idea that she does not belong in this new setting of the south.
Blanche says to Eunice p.3 “They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at – Elysian Fields!” This quote foreshadows the events of the play.  The streetcar is representative of how Blanche originally chose to follow her desires and then ultimately lost control of the predestined ‘streetcar’ destination, Elysian Fields which is the resting ground for heroes in Greek mythology which signifies her as a tragic hero (inevitability- – tragedy, Aristotle) Suggestion that desire takes you to your death. E.g. Allan
Eunice p.4 “She’s got the downstairs here and I got the up.” Represents how Stella has decreased her social status.
Negro women p.4 “You welcome” Grammar incorrect due to race – racism
Blanche p.6 “And turn that over-light off! Turn that off!” Light metaphorically exposes her wrongdoings she has to avoid it
Blanche p.7 “why, that you had to live in these conditions!” Disgust
Blanche p.7 “I was on the verge of – lunacy”   “I’m not very well” p.10 The caesura shows she is aware of her mental instability but ignores it
Blanche about Stanley p.9 “They’re something like Irish, aren’t they?” 3rd person pronoun highlights the divide Irish were discriminated against and perceived as uncultured thus Stanley is too. Reflects her snobbish façade and her desperate desire to cling onto those outdated perception of the world and social hierarchy
Blanche p.12 “I, I, I too the blows in my face and body!”   “but funerals are quiet, with pretty flowers.”   “You didn’t dream, but I saw! Saw! Saw!   “Why, the Grim Reaper had put up his tent at our doorstep!”   “Polack”4= Repetition and hyperbolic metaphor – plays victim and defensive tone     Trauma
Stage directions about Stanley p.13 “Stanley throws the screen door of the kitchen open and comes in.” Dominant and aggressive In fact, throughout the play most stage directions associated with Stanley are somewhat violent. Important here is the way in which Stanley does not simply open the door but throws it open. All of his movements seem to exude aggression and power.
Stage directions about Stanley p.13 “Since the earliest manhood the centre of his life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it… with the power and pride of a richly feathered male bird among hens.” Themes of masculinity and dominance “centre of his life” = one dimensional “taking” = foreshadowing Blanche’s rape “richly” = ironic working class “feathered male bird” = arrogance
Stage directions about Blanche p.16 “Blanche is bathing” Her frequent baths symbolise her yearning from emotional cleansing
Stanley to Stella p.16 “Napoleonic code” Repeated to emphasise his own intelligence but also entitlement and dominance
Stella p.17 “inexpensive summer furs”   “what’s rhinestone?” – Stanley Class gulf
Blanche approx. p22 “burn them!” Attachment to the past and trauma Hysterical outburst when Stanley touches her love letters
Stanley p.22 +p.24 “Where’s the papers” “what is Ambler & Ambler?”           “slams” “rips” “snatches” “shoves”   “[touches her forehead]” Expecting by asking her for the papers she will just tell him, but she gives him papers and he can’t understanding them – he sounds clueless Interrogative and confrontational tone – non- stop demanding questions   Masculine vs feminine   Aggressive   Overwhelms her and she gives in
Stanley p.24 “I have a lawyer acquaintance who will study these out.” Repeats stuff like this to show off To an extent Stanley here is less powerful as he needs to ask for help to understand the documents, showing his lack of intelligence. This shows him outing up a façade of wisdom and knowledge which is not true considering the way he speaks in such a colloquial and comfortable manner in comparison to Blanche’s refined language
Stage directions p.25 “the blue piano sounds louder” Symbol of Blanche’s emption heightened emotional damage
Blanche p.25 ‘He’s just not the sort that goes for jasmine perfume! But maybe he’s what we need to mix our blood now that we’ve lost Belle Reve… to protect us…” He lacks refinement to appreciate fine taste as Blanche can. However, acknowledges the Dubois clan no long can afford luxuries so they have to mix in.   “to protect us” Stella’s child will lack refinement but have survival skills that Blanche doesn’t have and lead to her downfall
Stage directions about Stanley p.35 “charges after Stella”   “[heaven splitting violence] STELLL-AHHHHH” (towards end of scene) Aggressive and manipulative
Blanche vs Mitch p.36 “Lunacy, absolute lunacy!”   “I’m terrified!”   “violence! Is so – “   “Ho-ho! There’s nothing to be scared of. They’re crazy about each other” “…But don’t take it serious.”   Blanche is not used to Stanley’s violence and is shocked however no one else around her seems as shocked as she does       Mitch’s dismissal of the events reflects the idea that violence is an everyday part of the society in Elysian fields. This also provides more evidence to support the idea that their relationship is so turbulent that violence is inevitable.
Stella P.41-42 “He smashed all the light – bulbs with the heel of my slipper! [she laughs]”   “I was – sort of – thrilled by it.” “You’re married to a madman!”   “I’m not in anything that I want to get out of.” Masculinity – shows his aggressive behaviour. Still thinks it’s normal.
Blanche p.43 “do you remember Shep Huntleigh?” Motif she returns to when in trouble Illusion vs reality
Blanche p.47 “He acts like an animal, has animal habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one!”   “ape-like”   “Stanley Kowalski – survivor of the Stone Age!” “jungle”   “grunt” + “gnawing” + “hulking” + “apes” + “growls”   “Don’t – don’t hang back with the brutes!” Semantic field of animalistic behaviour All sentences ended with exclamation marks reveals desperation + scripted non-fluency reveals emotion and mental instability       Xenophobia + uncivilised and primitive – prejudice     Semantic field of animalistic behaviour     In Italics and repetition of don’t both reveal desperation – she is pleading
Eunice p.50 “You hit me! I’m gonna call the police!”   Stella: “Eunice seems to be having some trouble with Steve” The domestic incident between Steve and Eunice is evidence for the general relationships between men and women in Elysian fields. Stella’s nonchalance supports the idea that this is not unusual.
Blanche P.53     “soft”   “Have got to be seductive”   “temporary magic just in order to pay for – one night’s shelter!”   “I’ve run for protection… from under one leaky roof to another leaky roof”         “because it was storm – all storm, and I was – caught in the centre…”     “men”       “shimmer and glow” + “[light]” Scripted non-fluency = struggling + show how erratic and unstable her speech is Repetition of ‘soft’ connotes weakness   Weaponizes her sexuality   Knows it won’t last – image of magic juxtaposes the practical image of shelter   Uses a lot of euphemism – she is still concealing the truth; theatrical and exaggerated – vivid imagery to disguise her transgressions Metaphor for the men she slept with – vulnerable, unstable – admits something taboo and transgressive   ‘storm’ metaphor for hard times and ‘centre’ gives a sense of being trapped, claustrophobic, surrounded by danger – powerless   Italicised ‘men’ to emphasise how she puts them ‘on a pedestal’ and relies on them for her self- worth.   Magical, fairy like image – semantic field of light
Stella p.53 “I don’t listen to you when you are being morbid!” Lack of sympathy – suggest weakness of Blanche’s rhetoric
Blanche to Mitch p.61 “joie de vivre!” “Voulez – vous couches avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez pas?…” Speaks in French – showing off and slightly mocking – pretentious Class gulf
Stage directions When Blanche talking about Allan  p.67 “Polka music sounds” Recurs at moments of trauma for Blanche – PTSD – vivid trauma
Blanche p.67 “He’d struck the revolver into his mouth and fired.”   “I know! I know! You disgust me…”     “the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again” Trauma and death     Confrontation – homosexuality – taboo – Williams is g*y   Motif of light/shade – effects of his death – traumatising Metaphor of ‘searchlight’ suggest imagery if rescue and salvation. After Allan’s death there is no real hope for Blanche – inevitability- tragedy
Mitch p.67       Blanche p.68 “You need somebody. And I need somebody, too. Could it be – you and me, Blanche?”   “Sometimes – there’s God – so quickly!” Desire for security and love       Sees a glimpse of her desired happiness and stability with Mitch’s embrace reflected by God’s presence. She also realises that God’s benevolence on her won’t last and is fleeting thus the remark ‘so quickly’
Stanley Scene 8 p.81- “I pulled you down off them columns”   “he hurls a cup and saucer to the floor”   “every man is a king” Class + new south     Aggressive and dominant + Misogynist We see how Stanley uses physical violence to invoke fear in the women and also to assert himself over them. Throughout the play, this motif is often used in order to convey the continuing conflict between men and women, with the men often employing their physical prowess to overpower or strike fear into the women. Here, Stanley is responding to Stella’s attempt to order him to clear the table with an act of violence which results in her crying weakly.
Blanche and Mitch p.89   Stanley p.97 “What do you want?” “[fumbling to embrace her] What I been missing all summer.”   We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning! [He picks up her inert figure and carries her to the bed] Mitch’s intention to rape her followed by Stanley’s successful rape of Blanche is the climactic point of this motif. Such a violent and deplorable crime is the epitome of violence in the play and serves to reflect the objectification of women in the society, whilst simultaneously asserting the men’s power over them.
Stanley and Blanche p.94 “There isn’t a goddam thing but imagination!” “Oh!” “And lies and conceit and tricks!” “Oh” Reality vs illusion
Stanley p.97 “We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning!” Fate/desire Inevitability – tragedy Aristotle Destruction of old south
Steve p.107 “This game is seven- card stud.” Last line of the play A very changing game – perhaps Kowalski household ever changing as well. Five curd stud old game and this is a new one – Blanche represents the old game – Stanley won the battle by ending it with this line
Motif Varsouviana  Trauma and death           
Setting   Belle Reve     Laurel   Elysian fields     Hotel Flamingo Places mirror characters Beautiful but sinister past – mirrors Blanche southern belle vs. internal breakdown   Allan Grey   Mirror new south and new social order – American dream “dint call me a polack” – Stanley   Sexual transgressions
Blanche’s sophisticated language “I feel so hot and frazzled”       “my nerves are in knots”         “like an orchid in spring”             “Why, that’s from my favourite sonnet by Mrs. Browning!” She uses highly sophisticated language, and this shows a sense of superiority. She uses long sentences, similes and figurative language   Moreover, she cannot tolerate rudeness and cruelty and gets offended easily thus hinting at the class gulf as shown when Stanley shouts at the women to leave the poker place   Describes her French name revealing her aristocracy The use of the simile to describe her name shows her sophisticated way of talking. It is white like southern belle + renewal – birth, new south, struggle with it   Williams also shows her educated background in literature. This is shown by her knowledge off poetry when talking to Mitch
Stage directions “[Two women, one white and one coloured]” This stage direction reveals the assimilation of African Americans and white Americans thus showing the end of class conflict and segregation in the south. The integration is also shown by how Stella us married to a ‘polack’ who is considered to be much lower in status.
Stanley “I’m not a pig – Polack – disgusting – vulgar – greasy.” Stanley standing up for himself represents the strength of the lower classes standing up to themselves with the emergence if the new south thus showing that old American values are being subdued by the new southern American values.
Williams Stanley represents the ‘savage and brutal forces of modern society.”   Blanche represents ‘the tender, the sensitive, the delicate.”  
Blanche after kissing young man “I’ve got to be good – and keep my hands off children.”    
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment