Blanche DuBois, a high school English teacher with an aristocratic background from Auriol, Mississippi, decides to move to live with her sister and brother-in-law, Stella and Stanley Kowalski, in New Orleans after creditors take over the family property, Belle Reve. Blanche has also decided to take a break from teaching as she states the situation has frayed her nerves. Knowing nothing about Stanley or the Kowalskis' lives, Blanche is shocked to find that they live in a cramped and run down ground floor apartment - which she proceeds to beautify by putting shades over the open light bulbs to soften the lighting - and that Stanley is not the gentleman that she is used to in men. As such, Blanche and Stanley have an antagonistic relationship from the start. Blanche finds that Stanley's hyper-masculinity, which often displays itself in physical outbursts, is common, coarse and vulgar, being common which in turn is what attracted Stella to him. Beyond finding Blanche's delicate ... Written by Huggo
Is Blanche jealous? We certainly know that she envies Stella the security and safe haven of her marriage while she, Blanche, was dealing with the loss of Belle Reve: “Where were you ! In bed with your—Polack!” ().
It’s interesting that Blanche chooses the word “bed” here, rather than simply berating Stella for her absence. It’s very possible that she resents the sexual freedom Stella enjoys as a married woman. By “freedom” we mean she can have sex any time she wants without reproach, albeit it with the same man. Blanche, by old Southern standards, shouldn’t be having sex at all ... since she isn't married.
One of the most tragic aspects of this story is that we have a hard time imagining an alternative ending. During the rape scene when Stanley tells Blanche that they’ve “had this date with each other from the beginning,” we understand why he says it (). Since Blanche is a woman who relates to men only on sexual levels, and Stanley is a man who relates to women only in a sexual manner, how can this play end happily? The heavy-duty sexual tension between these two is clear from the start, though whether Blanche is a conscious participant is up for debate.