Summary and Analysis of Scene 1
Stanley appears and summons his wife Stella to retrieve a package of meat. He then goes bowling, followed by Stella. Blanche appears almost immediately, looking for a specific street number. Eunice, the neighbour, notices Blanche is perplexed and informs her that this is the location of Stella’s residence. Eunice admits Blanche and pursues Stella. Blanche immediately locates a bottle of whiskey and takes a large swig.
When Stella arrives, Blanche expresses her disgust at the place but then attempts to shrug it off. She requests a drink to rehydrate her nerves. Blanche then returns to the flat, perplexed as to how Stella could possibly live in such a location. Stella makes an attempt to explain that New Orleans is unique and that the apartment is not as horrible as it appears. Blanche has promised not to speak further about it.
Blanche informs Stella that she was forced to leave from her employment as a high school teacher due to her nervousness. It was so unexpected that she was unable to inform Stella. Blanche examines the apartment’s limited number of rooms and wonders where she will sleep. Stella demonstrates the folding bed and assures her that Stanley will not mind the lack of privacy due to his Polish heritage. And Stella warns Blanche that Stanley’s pals will not be the type she is used to.
Blanche underlines that she must remain for an extended period of time since she cannot bear being alone. This prompts Blanche to inform Stella of the disappearance of Belle Reve, the ancestral mansion. When Stella inquires as to how it occurred, Blanche tells her that the family has a long history of deaths and that she had to stay and fight while Stella was “in bed with your — Polack.” Blanche hears Stanley outside when Stella begins to cry and goes to the bathroom. Blanche approaches him and introduces herself. Stanley removes his shirt for comfort and offers Blanche a glass, but Blanche declines, stating that she rarely touches it. Stanley inquires of Blanche whether she has ever been married. Blanche responds yes, but the boy has died; she then leaves, fearful of becoming ill.
The opening section of this scenario serves as a symbolic introduction to Stanley Kowalski’s basic attributes. He enters dressed in a brightly coloured bowling jacket and work attire, carrying “a red-stained package.” He shouts at Stella and throws the raw meat at her, which she catches with a frantic laugh. The neighbour’s chuckle at the packet of bloodied meat — an apparent sexual symbol depicting Stanley in the same way Blanche later describes him to Stella: “He is an “a stone-age survivor! Carrying the raw flesh back from the jungle kill; and you, here, waiting for him.” As a result, this scene portrays Stanley as a rough and unrefined man. Additionally, the scene establishes a tone of everyday violence and reality, which the delicate and sensitive Blanche is about to enter.
Williams has an unhealthy obsession with Freudian sexual symbols. Readers should be aware of this and respond appropriately. Apart from the raw meat, he employs bowling balls and pins, as well as the columns of the Belle Reve plantation house, as overt phallic and sexual motifs. Stanley’s bowling alludes symbolically to his propensity of summarising everything in terms of sexuality.
When Blanche describes taking a “streetcar named Desire, and then . . . one called Cemeteries,” Williams appears to be hinting that desire results in death, which subsequently results in an escape to the Elysian Fields. However, oddly, the tram takes her to the French Quarter, which is undoubtedly not Elysian Fields.
Take note that Blanche is depicted as wearing white and resembling a moth. Williams frequently outfits his most depraved characters in white, the purity symbol. (For instance, Chance Wayne in Sweet Bird of Youth and Sebastian in Suddenly, Last Summer are always dressed in white, except for Blanche.) Blanche’s attire conceals her inner demons and lends her a mothlike appearance. Additionally, her gestures resemble the fluttering of a fragile moth. And, just as a moth is frequently attracted to light and so destroyed by the heat, we shall learn later that Blanche is scared of light, and Mitch’s forcing her beneath the light initiates Blanche’s demise.
Take note of the play’s symbolic usage of names. Blanche DuBois is a French term that translates as “white of the woods.” Blanche, her claimed innocence is reflected in the white, while the woods serve as another Freudian phallic image. Stella is derived from the Greek word for star. The plantation’s name was Belle Reve, which translates as “beautiful dream” — hence, the loss of Belle Reve corresponds to Blanche’s loss of a wonderful dream.
Blanche instructs Stella on their first meeting to “turn that over-light off!” This is the first mention that Blanche is an aversion to excessive light. It corresponds to her moth-like appearance and will later develop into one of the play’s central motifs. Her phobia of light will be tied to her first husband’s death and her fear of being probed too closely in the cold, hard world of reality. Rather than that, she likes the dull, illusory world of semi-darkness.
Blanche is reliant on and need for alcohol reveals a lot about her character in this first scene. Later, when Stanley inquires about her need for a drink, she informs him that she rarely consumes one. This is an illustration of Blanche’s inability to tell the truth and her wish to be someone other than who she is.
Blanche’s insistence that she cannot be alone indicates that she is in a state of desperation at the play’s outset. She has nowhere to go and no one to turn to; else, she would not be here in these circumstances. Blanche’s current neurotic state is somewhat explained by her explanation of how Belle Reve was lost and the recital of her frequent contact with death.
The reader should take note of Williams’ description of Stanley in particular. “Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements.” This is the polar opposite of Blanche, who is delicate and ethereal. Additionally, the “centre of his life has been a pleasure with women.” He is the “emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer.” He takes great pride in whatever he owns. Thus, a source of later tension is Blanche’s inability to be his in any definition of the word. She resides in his home, consumes his food, drinks his booze, and criticises his life, but she is never truly his. Blanche’s refusal will later assist us in comprehending the horrible rape.
The play is essentially a sequence of interactions between the Kowalski and Blanche DuBois worlds. Each of these experiences will become more intense with successive encounters. The first encounter takes place at the conclusion of Scene 1. Blanche, who is excessively sensitive, is forced to introduce herself to Stanley, who instantly offers her a drink upon noticing the bottle has been touched. He undresses and makes an ominous remark to Stella, who is in the bathroom. He then confronts Blanche with a series of tough questions, concluding with an enquiry concerning her previous marriage. Blanche gets unwell towards the end of the first encounter. Thus, Stanley’s bruising, common, and harsh questions conclude by addressing the most delicate aspect of Blanche’s past life – her marriage to the young child. Even on this first meeting, Stanley’s animalism threatens to damage Blanche’s senses. Thus, the struggle is between Blanche’s oversensitive aristocratic world and Stanley’s ruthless, realistic, present-day world. However, as a footnote, Stanley is the type of person who prefers to keep his “cards on the table.” He is not interested in subtlety or duplicity; hence, had Blanche been forthright about his drinking, they may have gotten off to a better start.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 2
Stella informs Stanley that she is bringing Blanche out to dinner and a show while he is at the apartment playing poker. He is irritated because he is forced to eat off a chilly plate Stella placed in the icebox. She informs him that they have lost Belle Reve and Blanche is distraught, and Stanley would benefit from admiring Blanche’s outfit. However, Stanley wishes to revisit the loss of Belle Reve. He requests to see a bill of sale or other documents. He reminds Stella of the Napoleonic Code, which specifies that whatever the wife owns, the husband owns as well. Thus, if the wife is duped, the husband is duped, and Stanley despises being duped. Stanley examines Blanche’s furs and jewellery and demands to know where she obtained the funds to purchase them. Stella tries to explain that it is all made of synthetic materials that are really inexpensive. However, Stanley will have a friend analyse everything. Stella exits onto the porch to bring the discussion to a close.
Blanche requests that Stanley button her and offer her a drag on his cigarette when she emerges from her hot bath. He begins questioning her about the clothes, and Blanche begins pleading with him for a compliment on her appearance. He informs her that he is not interested in such behaviour and prefers those who “lay their cards on the table.” Stella attempts to intervene in the discussion, but Blanche dismisses her in pursuit of a coke. Then Stanley inquires about Belle Reve’s demise. Blanche admits that she knows she lies frequently, because “after all, a woman’s charm is fifty per cent illusion,” but she always tells the truth when it matters. Stanley approaches her and requests the papers. She walks up to the trunk and presents him with a tin box. He is curious about the other papers and simultaneously snatches them. Blanche informs him that these are love letters and that the very presence of his hands is an insult to them. She then hands him the documents from other corporations that had provided loans to the plantation, remarking that it is suitable that all of these ancient documents are now in his hands. He accepts the documents and attempts to rationalise his suspicions by stating that he needs to exercise caution now that Stella is expecting. When Stella returns, Blanche expresses her joy over the baby and compliments her on how effectively she handled Stanley, even flirting with him. They depart as soon as the poker players come.
The opening section of this scene establishes the theme of Blanche is bathing. She routinely bathes to calm her anxiety. However, this is also a purifying symbol. Subconsciously, she thinks that her baths will wash her of her sins. The baths are another annoyance for Stanley, as the hot baths cause the apartment to become even hotter.
Take note of Blanche’s frank and brazen flirtation with Stanley. Once again, the buttons, the request for a drag on his cigarette, and the trunk serve as familiar Freudian images. They are employed here to strengthen the sense that Blanche is seeking to attract Stanley symbolically. She is so forthright about it that Stanley states, “If I didn’t know that you was my wife’s sister I’d get ideas about you.” As a result, this scene contrasts with the subsequent scene in which Stanley rapes Blanche.
Blanche’s flirtation with Stanley is her sole known method of attracting male attention. She makes an attempt to exploit her charms. Indeed, she desires Stanley’s admiration and actively violates propriety by attempting this symbolic seduction.
This second scenario depicts the Stanley and Blanche worlds colliding for the second time. Even Blanche acknowledges here that Stanley’s world is harmful to those like her. “I hurt him the way that you would like to hurt me, but you can’t,” she says about her husband. However, Stanley will be able to simply destroy her. Blanche also notices the chasm between the two cultures when she provides Stanley with Belle Reve’s collected documents, believing it is fitting that their files for the noble home are now in his ruthless hands. After the encounter, Blanche is left shaking and disturbed.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 3
Later that night, Mitch, Stanley’s friend, requests to leave the poker game due to his mother’s illness. Stella and Blanche return from the performance, and Blanche meets the other cast members. When Stanley instructs the ladies to remain silent until the game is complete, Stella reminds him that it is 2:30 A.M. and time to call it a night. Stanley swats her behind, and the sisters enter the adjacent room, where Blanche encounters Harold Mitchell exiting the lavatory. Blanche notices that he appears more sensitive than the others as he departs and is informed that Mitch’s mother is gravely ill. Blanche prepares to disrobe until Stella informs her that she is now in the light. Stanley yells at the sisters to be quiet as they begin to chuckle.
Blanche returns to the light after Stella goes to the restroom and continues to undress while listening to rumba music on the radio. Stanley motions for her to turn off the radio. Mitch excuses himself once more and enters the other room, where he runs into Blanche. She requests a cigarette, and he proceeds to show her his cigarette case, which bears an inscription. Blanche recognises the inscription, and Mitch is happy, explaining that the case has a backstory. It was given to him by a girl who was dying and was aware of her impending death when she presented him with the present. Blanche explains that people who are in pain are frequently more empathetic and truthful than the general population. Blanche requests that Mitch cover the light bulb with a paper lantern because she “stand a naked light bulb, any more than a rude remark or a vulgar action.” Blanche continues the talk by explaining how she attempted to teach English and a passion for literature to uninterested children. Blanche turns on the radio and begins a small waltz as Stella exits the toilet, and Mitch awkwardly attempts to follow when Stanley runs into the room and tosses the radio out the window. Stella screams at him and commands that everyone returns to their homes. Stanley loses his temper and punches Stella. The guys restrain Stanley while the women depart. They compel him to take a shower and then flee.
Stanley reappears and contacts Eunice, requesting to speak with Stella. He threatens to phone Stella until he speaks with her. He then exits and yells for her. Eunice enters and warns him to keep quiet because Stella will not descend. He continues to call for her, and Stella slowly emerges from the apartment. He knelt and pressed her against him. He then reintroduces her to the residence. Blanche arrives in search of Stella. She runs into Mitch, who informs her that Stella has returned to him. Mitch reassures her that everything is fine at the moment. Blanche glances at him and expresses gratitude for his kindness.
Take note that the scene is staged against the backdrop of a really crazy poker game. Stanley is particularly impatient as a result of his recent losses. And we instantly notice Mitch as a contrast to the others, particularly in light of his care for his sick mother.
Blanche quickly notices Mitch’s distinction. Her inherent sensitivity enables her to detect it in others. This is a quality that Stanley lacks.
Blanche purposefully goes into the light as she undresses in order to be recognised. This is an expression of Blanche’s desire to be the centre of attention, and her use of her body to do so foreshadows some of her later colourful antics.
Take note that Blanche is and Mitch’s pasts are strangely similar, as both have experienced the loss of a loved one. This is simply one of the numerous factors that will unite them.
Again, the light motif is developed throughout this section. Blanche requests that Mitch hide the exposed light bulb. Ironically, it would be he who tears the paper lantern off later that night in order to “get a better look” at Blanche.
Blanche’s nearly pathological desire to lie should be made clear to the reader. She misleads Mitch about the cause for her visit to Stella and her age. However, as Blanche subsequently explains, they are merely little illusions that a woman must make.
This is Blanche her third interaction with Stanley. Blanche bears witness to Stanley’s animal cruelty and rude behaviour in this scene. Blanche has no concept of the violence he commits. Blanche is more taken aback by Stella’s return to Stanley following the fight.
Stella’s return to Stanley when he calls for her demonstrates the foundation of their marriage. Earlier scenes implied that they could not share any characteristics. As they “come together with low, animal moans.” it becomes clear that the fundamental attraction is one of sheer physical sexual attraction.
What is sometimes ignored in this scene is the scene’s genesis. To project, one must consider if this outburst would have occurred in the absence of Blanche’s visit. Blanche’s presence appears to have been the primary catalyst for the violence. And it will subsequently be revealed that Stanley believes her presence poses a genuine threat to his marriage.
Mitch and Blanche’s attraction is a stark contrast to Stanley and Stella’s bestial attraction. Blanche and Mitch’s sensitivity and stillness underline the delicate nature of their relationship.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 4
Blanche arrives at the Kowalski apartment the following morning, apprehensive and fearful, and when she sees Stella alone, she runs to her and embraces her. Stella advises Blanche to tone down her excitement. Blanche is perplexed as to how Stella returned to Stanley last night. Stella assuages her fears by assuring her that he was as gentle as a lamb. She makes an attempt to persuade Blanche that she is very satisfied and happy with her current circumstances. Blanche ignores her and attempts to think of a solution to get them out of the situation, despite Stella’s repeated refusals. Blanche has a vague recollection of an old boy buddy named Shep Huntleigh. She intends to call him to see if he can assist her in resolving her predicament. She informs
Stella has only sixty-five cents to her name, but she believes she cannot live under the same roof as Stanley after what happened last night: Stella attempts to explain why Stanley was so bad last night.
Throughout Blanche is attacking, Stella maintains her composure and just declares her love for Stanley. Then Blanche requests permission to speak openly. Stanley enters the room unnoticed by Blanche and Stella at this point and overhears Blanche’s comments. Stanley, Blanche asserts, is common and bestial. He possesses animalistic tendencies and is a “survivor of the Stone Age.” She implores Stella to consider some of civilization’s advancements and to avoid “hang back with the brutes.” Stanley then quietly exits and calls from the outside.
Stella leaps into his arms as he enters.
This scene establishes Blanche as the unmistakable outsider. By striving to convince Stella that Stanley is a common and bestial person, she only succeeds in isolating herself from her.
Blanche becomes aware of her precarious condition. This is where she first considers contacting an old acquaintance, Shep Huntleigh, who will become a symbol for her eventual departure from this world.
Blanche’s assessment of Stanley, that he is common and bestial — a stone-age survivor bringing home the raw flesh from the kill — accurately describes Stanley’s core essence. It is worth noting that the opening scene included Stanley bringing home a package of raw beef and throwing it to Stella. Additionally, Blanche’s description demonstrates how diametrically opposed he is to the type of men Blanche has known.
This scene does not feature a direct confrontation between Blanche and Stanley; rather, and perhaps more significantly, it features a clash between the two ideals of existence embodied by Stanley and Blanche. And by the time Stella throws herself at Stanley at the end of the scene, Stanley has already won.
Even though Stanley believes he has triumphed in this interaction, we must keep in mind that he has overheard himself described as ordinary, bestial, and vulgar. Blanche has referred to him as a beast and a savage. This occurred at his own residence. As a result, his resentment of Blanche and desire to rid himself of her are quite justified. When he later rapes her, he will be motivated in part by his contempt of her attitude toward him.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 5
Blanche has been paying a three-month visit. She has just finished writing a letter to Shep Huntleigh in which she pretends to have been attending a series of teas and cocktail parties. Stanley enters, clearly annoyed. He is hostile to Blanche. As he goes about slamming drawers, she inquires as to his astrological sign. Stanley was born under the Capricorn (the Goat) sign, whereas Blanche was born under the Virgo sign (the Virgin). When Stanley hears this, he chuckles contemptuously and then abruptly inquires about a man named Shaw who had met Blanche in a Hotel Flamingo. Blanche maintains that the Flamingo is not the type of establishment at which she would be seen. Stanley states that he will have this man verify it and “clear up any mistake.” Blanche is on the verge of passing out at this time. After refusing to kiss Stella in front of Blanche, Stanley goes to go bowling.
Blanche immediately wonders if Stella has overheard any unflattering news about her. Blanche reveals that in the years following her loss of Belle Reve, she was too soft and insufficiently tough, and there were some rumours about her. Stella brings her a coke and advises her to refrain from morbid conversation. Blanche vows to go before Stanley throws her out, but she is trembling so violently at this point that the coke foams and pours on her clothing. Stella is perplexed by her piercing cry. Blanche explains that she is nervous because Mitch will arrive at seven a.m. for her. She informs Stella that she has created the illusion that she is all prim and proper with Mitch. She has also lied about her age in order to get Mitch’s attention. Stella inquires about Blanche’s interest in Mitch. She informs Stella that she wishes to rest but still desires Mitch. Stanley summons Stella, and as she departs, she promises Blanche that her wish for Mitch will come true, but that she should abstain from alcohol for the time being.
A young man approaches the door in a few moments. He is amassing material for the paper. He is about to depart when Blanche informs him that she is out of money, but she returns his call and requests a light. Then she inquires about the rain and what he did during the downpour. He informed her that he had gone to the pharmacy and purchased a cherry soda. He attempts to go again, but Blanche stops him, complimenting him on his appearance, and then walks over to kiss him lightly on the lips. She then dismisses him, stating that she must refrain from interfering with youngsters. Mitch reappears moments later with a bouquet of flowers.
Notably, Stanley selects this opportunity to inquire about the man named Shaw after Blanche states that she was born under the virgin sign. Blanche exhibits visible signs of agitation during cross-examination. When Stanley finally leaves, she is trembling and in desperate need of a drink. This is then the beginning of Blanche’s former life closing down on her. This is also the start of Stanley’s plan to eliminate Blanche, and she feels stuck. Thus, Blanche is witnessing the disintegration of her own treasured world as a result of Stanley’s onslaught during their interaction.
This scene also demonstrates Williams’ proclivity for symbolism. Astrological signs, spilt cola on Blanche is a white gown, and the cherry soda mentioned by the young man are all employed as suggestive symbolism.
The scene with the small child may appear puzzlingly out of place at this stage in the narrative. It is only later that we learn Blanche once married a young guy and was horribly unkind to him during his time of greatest need. As a result, her sexual promiscuity is connected to her guilt about her failure to assist her young spouse. She yearns to relive the past and wishes for a youthful lover to take the place of her young husband, who committed suicide. In other words, having previously refused assistance to her young husband, she now attempts to compensate by offering herself to virtually everyone.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 6
Later that evening, Blanche and Mitch return from a date very late. They are debating the evening’s failure. Blanche accepts responsibility for the failure, believing that it is the lady’s responsibility to “entertain the gentleman.” Blanche requests Mitch’s permission to kiss her goodnight after she informs him that she must shortly pack her trunks. Blanche informs him that he should not have to ask, but urges him not to proceed further because a single girl must exercise extreme caution.
Stanley and Stella are absent from the house, and Blanche invites Mitch in for a nightcap. Blanche lights a candle and declares in French that she is the lady of the camellias as she is seeking whiskey. When Mitch states that he is unable to communicate in French, Blanche asks him in French if he would like to sleep with her and then states in English that it is a darn good thing he is unable to communicate in French. She requests that he remove his coat, but he is embarrassed by the way he sweats. He informs her of his weight and ease with which he sweats, but Blanche maintains that he is simply a healthy man.
Mitch inquires as to the whereabouts of Stella and Stanley. He then recommends that the four of them go out together; Blanche emphasises how much Stanley despises her and inquires as to if he has informed Mitch. Mitch pretends not to have done so, but Blanche is concerned. She reveals how harsh and ordinary he is to her and how she intends to leave as soon as Stella gives birth. Blanche is convinced that Stanley despises her and would “that man will destroy me.”
Mitch abruptly inquires about Blanche’s age. Blanche inquires as to why, and Mitch informs her that he has spoken to his mother about her. Blanche wonders if Mitch will be lonely once his mother dies. She explains that she understands loneliness because she herself has suffered the loss of a loved one. He was still a young man when they married, and he possessed a gentleness and delicacy that she could not quite comprehend. Then she discovered that the young man she had married was having an affair with an older man as well. She discovered this by entering the room where they were. Pretending nothing had happened, the three of them went to a dance, when Blanche abruptly expressed her distaste for her young husband. He bolted away from her and then shot himself. Since that time, no other light has shone brighter in her life than the kitchen candle.
Mitch says that she requires someone and that he, too, requires someone. Thus, as the polka tune playing in Blanche’s head throughout her narrative comes to an end, she and Mitch embrace.
This scene conveys Blanche’s hope, her sense of salvation. It follows the tradition of classical tragedy in that a classical tragedy must always allow for redemption at some point during the play. Blanche’s hope is in catching Mitch, and it will be Stanley’s subsequent revelation to Mitch about Blanche’s past that will end all of Blanche’s hopes. However, in this scene, Blanche seemed to be on the verge of emancipating herself from her entrapment.
A critical question is: Who is the genuine Blanche? Is she the innocent, naive girl she introduces to Mitch, or is she the twisted woman whose past Stanley unearths and reveals? Indeed, she wishes to be the young lady she is presenting to Mitch. In an ideal world, she sees herself as this girl. While this is a posture for her, she believes it is one that she, as the southern beauty, must take. As with Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, she believes it is her responsibility to amuse and welcome the man.
When Mitch explains his heavyweight, perspiration, and clumsiness, we have to picture him as a tough type of man. He is not a rough diamond. In other terms, he represents Blanche as the final hope. He is the final straw she is clutching for to avoid drowning.
Additionally, this scene demonstrates Blanche’s realisation that Stanley is her “executioner.” “That man will destroy me, unless” — the “unless” relates to her desire to marry Mitch. However, she understands that Stanley is purposefully attempting to harm her, and she is unable to stop him.
We find the foundation of all her other issues in Blanche is the narrative of her terrible marriage to the young Allan. Here was the man she adored yet was unable to assist. Her love came in the form of a “blinding light” and she has never known a light “that’s stronger than this — kitchen — candle!” after his death. Thus, Blanche’s aversion to light, as seen earlier in the play, is tied to both her desire to conceal her age and, more importantly, to the imagery associated with her young spouse.
We now understand why Varsouviana music was playing in the background. This was the tune that played when Blanche and her young husband danced, and the same song continues to play in her thoughts until the sound of her husband’s gunshot interrupts it. As a result, whenever Blanche hears music, she must drink until she hears the gunshot signalling the song’s conclusion.
Ultimately, this scene reveals Blanche and Mitch to be extremely lonely individuals who might find happiness with one another. Each might be able to fill a vacancy for the other.
As a result, the scene concludes on a hopeful note for both characters.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 7
Stanley returns home a few weeks later to see Blanche soaking in a hot pool, although it is scorching outside. Blanche’s birthday is approaching, and Stella has planned a small celebration. Stanley coerces Stella into pausing her work and listening to him. He has discovered information concerning Blanche. While Blanche is singing “It’s Only a Paper Moon,” Stanley says that Blanche is well-known in Laurel. She was so out of control that the low-rent Flamingo Hotel asked her to vacate. Blanche was referred to as “out-of-bounds” at the nearby army camp, and she was fired from her work for being involved with a seventeen-year-old lad. Blanche interjects herself into the conversation by requesting a towel. She sees Stella’s look is weird, but Stella tells her that everything is fine. Stella returns to Stanley and attempts to explain that Blanche’s early life was marred by tragedy as a result of the young boy she married and that Blanche was never really recovered. Stanley is unconcerned with such “old history”; he is just concerned with the present.
When Stanley spots the birthday cake, he begins to worry if there will be a company. Stella informs him that Mitch has been asked to dinner. Stanley reveals that Mitch will not be present tonight since Mitch is an old friend and he needed to inform him of what he learned about Blanche. Stella is taken aback and laments that Blanche believed Mitch was going to marry her. Stanley corrects her by assuring her that while Mitch may not be finished with Blanche, he is not going to marry her. He also informs her that he has purchased a bus ticket for next Tuesday and that she must depart. Stella objects, but Stanley is unflinching. He believes Blanche’s future has been “mapped out for her.” He then screams for Blanche to exit the bathroom for him to enter. Blanche notices something has happened and is terrified.
While Blanche is bathing and singing about the paper moon and make-believe world in the bathroom, the practical Stanley returns home with a complete case against Blanche. He has gathered all the evidence and compiled a list of all the lies she has told him. Stanley is now prepared to face Blanche in his final encounter. He now possesses all of the information necessary to re-establish his superiority over her.
Stanley’s actions, it must be noted, are motivated by a variety of factors. Blanche, most importantly, has posed a threat to his marriage. Stanley recognises that his married life has changed significantly since Blanche is arriving. Second, he is fed up with being labelled vulgar and common. Even if he is rude, he feels that his life pales in comparison to Blanche’s. Thus, he will regain his own sense of significance solely by demonstrating Blanche is degeneracy. Finally, Stanley is somebody who is incapable of believing in illusion or make-believe. He is the realist and must play “his cards on the table.” As so, he must, by nature, dismantle all the illusions Blanche has created.
Stanley has the foresight to recognise that Blanche and Mitch may have been able to have a great marriage despite Blanche is passed. Rather from that, he feels a manly obligation to enlighten Mitch about Blanche’s previous life. Not only does he inform Mitch, but he also purchases a bus ticket for Blanche to return to Laurel. Not that he could have purchased a ticket to another town, but he cruelly purchases one that returns her to the scene of her previous failure and the one place to which she is unable to return.
Ironically, Blanche is bathing (again, symbolic of a cleansing ritual) just as Stanley is about to divulge all the past she is attempting to wash away.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 8
Blanche, Stella, and Stanley are nearing the conclusion of Blanche’s birthday party later that evening. She is perplexed as to why Mitch has failed to appear. She attempts to tell a joke, but no one laughs. Stella informs Stanley that he is “too busy making a pig of himself” and instructs him to go wash and assist her in clearing the table. Stanley erupts in rage, hurls his plate to the floor, and threatens Stella not to use such language toward him again, stating that he is “king around here.” Blanche demands to know what occurred as he departs. She intends to phone Mitch, but Stella convinces her not to. She makes the call nonetheless, but Mitch is not at home. Stella prepares to ignite the birthday candles, as Stanley laments the bath’s steam. When Stanley returns from answering the phone, he informs Blanche that he has a birthday present for her. She is shocked and delighted until she opens it and discovers the bus ticket for Tuesday’s bus return to Laurel. As Blanche is powerless to do anything but exit the room, the polka music begins to play.
Stella is perplexed as to why Stanley treated Blanche so cruelly, particularly given Blanche is soft and delicate in nature. Stanley refuses to accept Blanche is extremely fragile in light of her prior experiences. Stella is adamant about receiving an explanation. Stanley reminds her of how common he was when they first met, which she enjoyed, particularly at night. And he assures Stella that they will be reunited after Blanche departs. Stella abruptly instructs Stanley to transport her to the hospital.
Scene 8 is violent. It begins with a small birthday celebration for Blanche, but although Blanche awaits Mitch’s arrival, Stanley and Stella are aware that he will not show. Thus, tension exists in the air, which explodes when Stella informs Stanley that he is behaving badly and that he should wash and assist her in clearing the table. Stanley furiously tosses his dishes and then proclaims himself king here.
In reality, this scene demonstrates how Blanche’s presence is hurting Stanley and Stella’s marriage. This type of scene would almost certainly never have occurred without Blanche’s arrival; hence, Stanley is battling for his marriage.
Stanley exacts his vengeance as he provides Blanche with the return ticket. When Blanche sees the ticket, the Varsouviana melody resumes. The music here underscores her predicament, and the viewer recognises that she is on the point of being stuck in a circumstance that would result in her young husband’s death.
Blanche was once “tender and trusting” according to Stella, whom we must believe, but she was abused. Thus, she may have always been the sort unsuited to the realm of reality.
Stanley’s final statements indicate that things were going swimmingly between them before Blanche her arrival. We see here that part of his vengeance originates from Blanche is calling him filthy, a pig, an ape, and other derogatory terms.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 9
Blanche is alone in the apartment later that evening. She is startled at the doorbell. Mitch is still wearing his work clothes and is unshaven. Blanche feigns astonishment but declares that she is relieved to see him since he has put an end to the polka music playing in her thoughts. She searches for anything to offer him, but he is not interested in any of Stanley’s whiskey. Blanche is aware that something is awry, but she asserts that she will refrain from “cross-examining” the witness. Mitch attempts to speak, but Blanche continues to babble. When Blanche offers him a drink, he informs her that Stanley informed him that she had been chugging it all summer. He then states that it is dark and inquires as to why Blanche has never accompanied him on a daytime date. Mitch desires to switch on the lights, but Blanche implores him not to. She is not interested in the light of truth; she is interested in magic and illusion. Mitch, on the other hand, takes the lantern out of the light and forces Blanche beneath it. He notices she is older than he anticipated, but he could take it if she were heterosexual.
He informs Blanche of the stories he has heard and how he verified them by having three witnesses swear to them. When Mitch mentions the Flamingo, Blanche breaks her position and describes how, with the death of her young husband, there was nothing left but intimacies with strangers to fill the hole. She moved from stranger to stranger until she became involved with a seventeen-year-old lad. She arrived in New Orleans in a state of desperation. Then she met Mitch, who informed her that both he and she required assistance. Mitch accuses her of deception. She asserts that she has never said a lie from the heart. At this point, a street hawker sells flowers for the deceased. When Blanche hears the salesman, she is reminded of all the deaths she has had to endure and how desire is the polar opposite of death. She even informs Mitch of her run-ins with the Army camp located near her residence. Mitch suddenly wraps his arms around her and demands to know what he has been missing for the entire summer. She makes a marriage proposal. Mitch informs her that she is insufficient. Blanche commands him to leave immediately or she would scream. While he continues to stare, she dashes to the window and screams wildly, “Fire!” Mitch stumbles to his feet.
Take note that Blanche is opening description. She is dressed in her old tattered clothes – the remaining vestiges of a previous existence. The melody from “Varsouviana” — the piece that played when her husband shot himself — is heard in the background, and Blanche is drinking to escape from it all.
Mitch’s appearance, unshaven and dressed in his soiled work clothes, underscores once more that he is Blanche her final hope – that he is a gruff and perhaps unrefined type.
Blanche immediately assumes the role of the innocent little girl upon Mitch’s presence, and the polka music ceases. However, she quickly recognises that something is wrong and the music resumes. Blanche speaks so much in the early section of this scene that Mitch never has a chance to make his accusations against her. Her constant talk serves to mask her concerns and to delay hearing what she dread hearing.
Mitch’s first confrontation occurs when he coerces Blanche into coming into contact with the light. This act carries a number of implications. To begin, Blanche has fooled Mitch over her age, and the light reveals Blanche in deception. The exposure of this deceit results in the exposure of the other deceptions. Second, Blanche has avoided light at all costs since her young husband committed suicide. Since his passing, she has had nothing more than candlelight. Thus, Blanche has lived her existence in semi-obscurity, and being compelled into the light violates her inner nature. Thirdly, being compelled into the light here represents the revelation of Blanche in her prior life. She has attempted to conceal her life of debauchery, and when Mitch brings her into the light, it is the equivalent of forcing her to confront and admit her prior life. Fourth, Blanche, her entire philosophy of life is based on magic and illusion. She is not interested in realism. Rather than that, she prefers the enchantment of illusion. And she lives for “what ought to be.” rather than the truth. Thus, bringing Blanche into the light forces her to confront reality in all its ugliness — that is, to confront how her life actually was rather than how it should have been.
Blanche’s admission of her previous life is nearly excessive. It possesses that Tennessee Williams-esque sensationalism. It is almost amazing that she had such a vivid and depraved past, and some critics would argue that it is unneeded. Her confession does not seem to match this fragile moth-like creature on the verge of annihilation. However, the inverse argument must be considered. Williams has attempted to demonstrate how Blanche’s excessively delicate and sensitive nature drove her to seek escape from her young husband’s failure through alcohol and intimacies with strangers.
Blanche claims that she never lied to Mitch when he accuses her of lying to him “inside. I did not fabricate a lie in my heart.” Blanche is implying that she used some deception to ensnare Mitch, but while a certain amount of deception is part of a woman’s allure, as she stated in Scene 2 to Stanley, “when a thing is important, I tell the truth.” And she did tell Mitch the truth when she expressed her love for and need for him, as well as their mutual desire for one another.
Mitch then feels that Blanche should sleep with him after learning of her past. Blanche might gladly give herself to a stranger, but not to someone she knew as well as she knows Mitch, and particularly not under such vulgar conditions. As a result, Blanche is at her lowest point in existence at the end of the scene, now that Stanley has given her a bus ticket back to Laurel and Mitch has abandoned her.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 10
Later that evening, Blanche is dressed in an ancient, worn gown and has a rhinestone tiara on her head. She has been drinking heavily. She is talking to herself as Stanley enters. He tells her that the baby won’t come before morning, and the doctors sent him home. He wonders about the dress that Blanche has on. She tells him a great narrative about how she just received an invitation for a cruise in the Caribbean with Mr Shep Huntleigh. Stanley drinks a beer and gets out the silk pyjamas which he wore on his wedding night. Blanche thinks how great it will be to have some solitude again and to be among something other than swine. Blanche tells Stanley how Mitch came to her, pleading her forgiveness, but she sent him away because “deliberate cruelty is not forgivable.” Then Stanley assaults her, telling her she is lying and that she has no invitation. Blanche hurries to the telephone hoping to reach Shep Huntleigh, but she can’t manage to compose a message. She leaves the phone to acquire the address. Stanley replaces the phone on the hook. Blanche asks him to step aside so she can pass, and Stanley decides that interfering with her might not be such a bad thing. Blanche breaks a bottle as he approaches her, intending to “to twist the broken end in your face.” As she drops to the floor, he rushes on her. He lifts up her immobile body and transports it to the bedroom.
This scene depicts Blanche and Stanley’s final confrontation, with Stanley emerging as the undisputed victor.
The scene’s outset reestablishes the fundamental distinction between Blanche and Stanley. She has returned to her world of deception and deception – a world that Stanley, the realist, cannot comprehend or endure.
Blanche asserts that she terminated Mitch’s employment because “Intentional cruelty is unforgivable. It is, in my opinion, the one unforgivable act.” As a result of Blanche’s deliberate cruelty to her young husband, she has since developed this notion. Naturally, she must regard herself as unforgivable for her harshness toward him. This may explain a great deal of her behaviour, but her statement comes at an inconvenient time – just as Stanley is ready to rape her — an act of terrible cruelty.
Stanley is shown as a wild animal on the prowl in his excitement at the impending birth of his child. For the first time in his life, he views Blanche as someone with whom he “wouldn’t be bad to — interfere with.” This concept instils in him the notion of seduction. He also believes that Blanche has been “swilling down my liquor” throughout the summer and that he is due some compensation. However, Stanley is perplexed as to why a lady who has slept with so many men would refuse to sleep with him. And, most importantly, Stanley has always operated intending to enjoy what is his — “his car, his radio, everything that is his, that bears his emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer.” Blanche may have lived in his house, consumed his food, and drank his wine, but she is unquestionably not his; in fact, she is openly hostile toward him. Thus, his rape serves as a means of reiterating his superiority over her. And, given that her presence in his home nearly wrecked his marriage, he feels no sorrow or regret for Blanche’s demise.
Blanche is shocked opposition to sleeping with Stanley is not moral. Rather than that, he embodies every facet of life that she is incapable of coping with. He seems to her as her destroyer, and his rape of her is the root of her insanity. And she lacked the strength necessary to defend herself from this hostile force. Thus, it is not the actual rape that drives her insane, but the notion that she was raped by a man who embodies everything she despises. As a result, she is metaphorically incapable of coping with Stanley’s cruel real world.
Summary and Analysis of Scene 11
Stella is spotted packing some of Blanche’s belongings some weeks later. Another poker party is currently underway. Stanley is victorious this time. Eunice arrives to assist with the packing. Stella questions whether sending Blanche to the state facility is the appropriate thing to do. Stella informs Eunice that if she believes Blanche’s storey, she will be unable to continue living with Stanley. Eunice reassures Stella that she is acting rationally. Blanche emerges from the bathroom, exuding “hysterical vivacity.” She is unsure whether she has gotten a call. Blanche speaks abruptly and hysterically, wanting to know what is happening. She is entrapped and desirous of emancipation. Stella and Eunice assist her in putting on her clothes. Blanche eats some unwashed grapes and fantasises about dying on the beach from unwashed grapes and being buried in a clean white sack.
Blanche is picked up by a doctor and a matron from the state facility. Eunice announces that “someone is calling for Blanche.” Blanche is prepared to depart but is averse to passing into the room where the men are engaged at poker. She panics and attempts to flee when she sees the doctor. Stanley obstructs her path and advances toward her with the matron. Stanley informs her that she left nothing save the paper lantern, which he splits open and offers to Blanche after removing the light bulb. As Blanche cries and attempts to flee, Stella flees to the porch, where Eunice attempts to console her. Meanwhile, Blanche is restrained by the matron. The doctor moves forward and speaks softly and quietly to Blanche. She answers to his silence by stating that she has “always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Stanley comforts Stella by fondling her breasts as the doctor escorts her out.
This scenario contrasts with Scene 3’s poker game. However, where Stanley previously lost, he now wins, implying that he is once again the uncontested king of his own house.
Williams’ position is probably best expressed in Eunice’s reply to Stella following Stella’s declaration that she could no longer live with Stanley if Blanche is storey is true. Eunice informs her “Never believe such a thing. Life must continue. Whatever happens, you must continue.” However, Blanche did not appear to have the fortitude to continue living in the face of adversity. She was too frail to handle the strains of living in a harsh, realistic environment.
Blanche informs the doctor and matron that she is unable to accompany them because she has forgotten something. Stanley then inquires as to what and switches off the “magic” Chinese lantern, leaving the naked light bulb glaring at Blanche. This is the final blow dealt with Blanche, who attempts to flee but is apprehended by the matron. Again, the symbolism of light underscores Blanche’s eagerness to dwell in a world of semi-illusion that is in direct opposition to Stanley’s world.
The drama concludes with Stanley consoling Stella in the only way he knows how – by unbuttoning her blouse and fondling her breasts, stressing once again his status as the “gaudy seed bearer.”
The play’s final line refers to the man’s world when Steve reveals the game is “seven-card stud,” a particularly wild form of poker.