A Streetcar Named Desire

by: Tennessee Williams

Sexuality

Quotes Sexuality
I don’t like a bed that gives much. But there’s no door between the two rooms, and Stanley—will it be decent?

Blanche speaks to Stella about the accommodations in the apartment. Stella has just shown her where she will sleep, referring to a rollaway bed as “one of those collapsible things.” Blanche’s lines are full of double meanings and portends the sex she will have with Stanley in Scene Nine. The two-room apartment is claustrophobic, and so are the relationships that build in the course of the play. Blanche’s lines also reflect something we learn later in the play: Blanche has shared beds with many men and decency has eluded her for a long time.

What such a man has to offer is animal force and he gave a wonderful exhibition of that! But the only way to live with such a man is to—go to bed with him! And that’s your job—not mine!

Blanche is responding to her sister’s admission that Blanche saw Stanley “at his worst” the night before when Stanley was drunk and abusive. For Blanche, sexuality is both abhorrent and attractive. At this point in the play, Blanche may not realize that she will eventually have sex with Stanley, but these lines foreshadow the event.

He hasn’t gotten a thing but a goodnight kiss, that’s all I have given him, Stella. I want his respect. And men don’t want anything they get too easy. But on the other hand men lose interest quickly. Especially when the girl is over—thirty. They think a girl over thirty ought to—the vulgar term is—“put out.”

Blanche, as usual, plays the role of the debutante, pretending to be fully informed about sexuality and also pretending to be younger than she really is. Blanche seems to understand how men operate and women counter, and she considers her moves carefully. She later confesses to Stella that she is interested in Mitch, not for love, but because he represents escape from her current lonely and desperate situation.

By coming suddenly into a room that I thought was empty—which wasn’t empty, but had two people in it . . . the boy I had married and an older man who had been his friend for years . . .

After their date, Blanche admits to Mitch a tragic and seminal experience from her past. She fell in love when she was sixteen and married a young man. After walking in on a homosexual encounter between her husband and his older friend, she told her husband that he disgusted her. He, in response, killed himself with a revolver at the casino where they were dancing and drinking. As a result of this experience, Blanche admits that a light inside of her was turned off and has never been turned on again.

Them night we had together? God, honey, it’s gonna be sweet when we can make noise in the night the way that we used to and get the colored lights going with nobody’s sister behind the curtain to hear us!

Stanley confides to Stella that he has felt restricted by Blanche’s visit and that he misses the loud, free sex they shared before she arrived. This underscores Stanley’s intense sexuality that he shares with his wife and makes the audience understand that he looks forward to Blanche leaving, in whatever way necessary.

Oh! So you want some rough-house! All right, let’s have some rough-house! Tiger—tiger! Drop the bottle top! Drop it! We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning!

Stanley here ridicules Blanche’s resistance to his sexual advances, saying she asked to be seduced. Blanche and Stanley are alone because Stella is in the hospital giving birth. Stanley is drunk and aggressive with Blanche. In response to the threat of rape, Blanche has smashed a bottle and threatened to hurt Stanley. In the end, Stanley disarms and overpowers Blanche. Stanley’s reference to the dynamic set in motion at the beginning of the play identifies their coupling as the play’s inevitable climax. The scene ends with the sounds of trumpets and drums, making clear that Blanche was not a willing participant.