A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams

Scene Ten

Summary Scene Ten


It is a few hours after Mitch’s departure. Blanche’s open trunk sits with clothes hanging out of it in the middle of the bedroom. Blanche sits before the mirror, places a tiara on her head, and speaks out loud, flirting with imaginary suitors. She speaks of boozing and carousing after a late-night party. A closer glance at herself in a hand mirror quickly upsets her, and she angrily smashes the mirror.

Stanley enters the apartment, slamming the door behind him and giving a low whistle when he sees Blanche decked out in an old white satin evening gown and jeweled party shoes. Like Blanche, Stanley is drunk, and he carries several unopened beer bottles. Blanche asks about Stella, and Stanley tells her the baby won’t be born until the following day. They will be the only two in the apartment that night.

With mock politeness, Stanley asks why Blanche is all dressed up. She tells him that Shep Huntleigh, a former admirer, has sent her a telegram inviting her to join him on his yacht in the Caribbean. She explains that she has nothing suitable to wear on a cruise. Stanley seems happy for Blanche. As he takes off his shirt, Blanche requests that he close the curtains before finishing undressing, but Stanley says that he’s done for the moment. He opens a bottle of beer on the corner of the table, then pours the foam on his head. He suggests that he and Blanche each have a beer to celebrate their good news—his new baby and her millionaire. Blanche declines Stanley’s offer, but his good spirits persist.

In anticipation of good news from the hospital, Stanley goes to the bedroom to find his special silk pajamas. Blanche continues to talk about Shep Huntleigh, feverishly working herself up as she describes what a gentleman he is and how he merely wants the companionship of an intelligent, spirited, tender, cultured woman. Blanche claims that though she is poor financially, she is rich in spirit and beautiful in mind. She asserts that she has been foolishly lavishing what she has to offer on those who do not deserve it—“casting [her] pearls before swine.”

At the word “swine,” Stanley’s amicable mood evaporates. Blanche continues, recounting how Mitch arrived earlier that night to accuse her of the slanderous lies that Stanley told him. Blanche claims that after she sent Mitch away, he came back in vain, with roses and apologies. She says that she cannot forgive “deliberate cruelty,” and that the two of them are too different in attitude and upbringing for their relationship to work.

Stanley disrupts Blanche’s story to ask if Mitch came by before or after her telegram from Shep Huntleigh. Blanche is caught off guard and forgets what she has said about Shep’s telegram, and Stanley jumps on her mistake. He launches an attack, tearing down her make-believe world point by point. It turns out that Stanley saw Mitch after his encounter with Blanche, so Stanley knows that Mitch is still disgusted with her. All Blanche can say in reply is “Oh!” Stanley finishes his accusation of Blanche with a disdainful laugh and walks through the bedroom into the bathroom.