older sister, who was a high school English teacher in Laurel, Mississippi,
until she was forced to leave her post. Blanche is a loquacious
and fragile woman around the age of thirty. After losing Belle Reve,
the DuBois family home, Blanche arrives in New Orleans at the Kowalski
apartment and eventually reveals that she is completely destitute. Though
she has strong sexual urges and has had many lovers, she puts on
the airs of a woman who has never known indignity. She avoids reality,
preferring to live in her own imagination. As the play progresses,
Blanche’s instability grows along with her misfortune. Stanley sees
through Blanche and finds out the details of her past, destroying
her relationship with his friend Mitch. Stanley also destroys what’s
left of Blanche by raping her and then having her committed to an insane asylum.
in-depth analysis of Blanche DuBois.
- Blanche’s younger sister, about twenty-five years old
and of a mild disposition that visibly sets her apart from her more
vulgar neighbors. Stella possesses the same timeworn aristocratic
heritage as Blanche, but she jumped the sinking ship in her late
teens and left Mississippi for New Orleans. There, Stella married lower-class
Stanley, with whom she shares a robust sexual relationship. Stella’s
union with Stanley is both animal and spiritual, violent but renewing.
After Blanche’s arrival, Stella is torn between her sister and her
husband. Eventually, she stands by Stanley, perhaps in part because
she gives birth to his child near the play’s end. While she loves
and pities Blanche, she cannot bring herself to believe Blanche’s
accusations that Stanley dislikes Blanche, and she eventually dismisses
Blanche’s claim that Stanley raped her. Stella’s denial of reality
at the play’s end shows that she has more in common with her sister
than she thinks.
- The husband of Stella. Stanley is the epitome of vital
force. He is loyal to his friends, passionate to his wife, and heartlessly
cruel to Blanche. With his Polish ancestry, he represents the new,
heterogeneous America. He sees himself as a social leveler, and
wishes to destroy Blanche’s social pretensions. Around thirty years
of age, Stanley, who fought in World War II, now works as an auto-parts
salesman. Practicality is his forte, and he has no patience for
Blanche’s distortions of the truth. He lacks ideals and imagination.
By the play’s end, he is a disturbing degenerate: he beats his wife
and rapes his sister-in-law. Horrifyingly, he shows no remorse.
Yet, Blanche is an outcast from society, while Stanley is the proud
in-depth analysis of Stanley Kowalski.
Harold “Mitch” Mitchell
- Stanley’s army friend, coworker, and poker buddy,
who courts Blanche until he finds out that she lied to him about
her sordid past. Mitch, like Stanley, is around thirty years of
age. Though he is clumsy, sweaty, and has unrefined interests like
muscle building, Mitch is more sensitive and more gentlemanly than
Stanley and his other friends, perhaps because he lives with his
mother, who is slowly dying. Blanche and Mitch are an unlikely match:
Mitch doesn’t fit the bill of the chivalric hero, the man Blanche
dreams will come to rescue her. Nevertheless, they bond over their lost
loves, and when the doctor takes Blanche away against her will,
Mitch is the only person present besides Stella who despairs over
in-depth analysis of Harold “Mitch” Mitchell.
friend, upstairs neighbor, and landlady. Eunice and her husband,
Steve, represent the low-class, carnal life that Stella has chosen
for herself. Like Stella, Eunice accepts her husband’s affections
despite his physical abuse of her. At the end of the play, when
Stella hesitates to stay with Stanley at Blanche’s expense, Eunice
forbids Stella to question her decision and tells her she has no
choice but to disbelieve Blanche.
young man with poetic aspirations whom Blanche fell in love with
and married as a teenager. One afternoon, she discovered Allan in
bed with an older male friend. That evening at a ball, after she
announced her disgust at his homosexuality, he ran outside and shot
himself in the head. Allan’s death, which marked the end of Blanche’s
sexual innocence, has haunted her ever since. Long dead by the time
of the play’s action, Allan never appears onstage.
A Young Collector
- A teenager who comes to the Kowalskis’ door to collect
for the newspaper when Blanche is home alone. The boy leaves bewildered
after Blanche hits on him and gives him a passionate farewell kiss.
He embodies Blanche’s obsession with youth and presumably reminds
her of her teenage love, the young poet Allan Grey, whom she married
and lost to suicide. Blanche’s flirtation with the newspaper collector
also displays her unhealthy sexual preoccupation with teenage boys,
which we learn of later in the play.
former suitor of Blanche’s whom she met again a year before her
arrival in New Orleans while vacationing in Miami. Despite the fact
that Shep is married, Blanche hopes he will provide the financial support
for her and Stella to escape from Stanley. As Blanche’s mental stability
deteriorates, her fantasy that Shep is coming to sweep her away
becomes more and more real to her. Shep never appears onstage.
poker buddy who lives upstairs with his wife, Eunice. Like Stanley,
Steve is a brutish, hot-blooded, physically fit male and an abusive
poker buddy. Like Stanley and Steve, Steve is physically fit and
brutish. Pablo is Hispanic, and his friendship with Steve, Stanley,
and Mitch emphasizes the culturally diverse nature of their neighborhood.
A Negro Woman
Scene One, the Negro woman is sitting on the steps talking to Eunice
when Blanche arrives, and she finds Stanley’s openly sexual gestures
toward Stella hilarious. Later, in Scene Ten, we see her scurrying across
the stage in the night as she rifles through a prostitute’s lost
the play’s finale, the doctor arrives to whisk Blanche off to an
asylum. He and the nurse initially seem to be heartless institutional
caretakers, but, in the end, the doctor appears more kindly as he
takes off his jacket and leads Blanche away. This image of the doctor ironically
conforms to Blanche’s notions of the chivalric Southern gentleman
who will offer her salvation.
A Mexican Woman
- A vendor of Mexican funeral decorations who frightens
Blanche by issuing the plaintive call “Flores para los muertos,
which means “Flowers for the dead.”
called the “Matron,” she accompanies the doctor to collect Blanche
and bring her to an institution. She possesses a severe, unfeminine
manner and has a talent for subduing hysterical patients.
supply man who is Stanley’s coworker and his source for stories
of Blanche’s disreputable past in Laurel, Mississippi. Shaw travels
regularly through Laurel.
before Stanley rapes Blanche, the back wall of the Kowalskis’ apartment
becomes transparent, and Blanche sees a prostitute in the street
being pursued by a male drunkard. The prostitute’s situation evokes Blanche’s
own predicament. After the prostitute and the drunkard pass, the
Negro woman scurries by with the prostitute’s lost handbag in hand.