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A Streetcar Named Desire (Modern Classics…

A Streetcar Named Desire (Modern Classics (Penguin)) (original 1947; edition 2009)

by Tennessee Williams (Author)

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6,400751,058 (3.93)150
Tennessee Williams' classic drama studies the emotional disintegration of a Southern woman whose last chance for happiness is destroyed by her vindictive brother-in-law.
Title:A Streetcar Named Desire (Modern Classics (Penguin))
Authors:Tennessee Williams (Author)
Info:Penguin Books (2009), Edition: 5th or later Edition, 111 pages
Collections:Your library

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A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (Author) (1947)


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English (69)  Spanish (2)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  All languages (74)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
I read this play as part of Dead Writers Society Literary Birthday Challenge for March. I am so happy that I selected Williams as one of the authors I wanted to read this month.

I think in school I may have possibly read one of the first scenes from this play and that was it. Reading the entire play in one sitting was fantastic. Tennessee Williams doesn't just focus on the characters, he focuses on the music being played in the scenes, how the music changes based on what characters are saying, how they should look, how set pieces should look, etc. This was like getting a behind the scene notes on how a play is written.

FYI there is a discussion of rape in this review so please skip over if you don't want to read about the subject.

Following two sisters, Blanche and Stella, we have Stella living in New Orleans married to her husband Stanley. Stella was fairly well off before marrying Stanley, and the two are in a marriage that has a lot of passion but also a lot of anger and fights.

Blanche still recovering from the loss of her first husband, has come to visit Stella. It's pretty apparent that things are not what they seem with Blanche and that she is a bit "off" so to speak based on later scenes.

Stella and Blanche are total opposites in some ways, but geez oh geez, they have some similarities. For example, both bury their head in the sand when it comes back to facing up to their reality.

Blanche still wants to believe she's a Southern belle with beaus scampering after her.

Stella wants to believe that passion and the love she has for Stanley is enough though he is at times abusive when he drinks and is definitely verbal abusive to her when he has not drunk.

The character of Stanley is crude, hurtful, and smart. I think that is one of the things that you don't realize at first glance. Stanley takes his time, but he ensures that he breaks Blanche down to size. The fact that when he first met her and he realized her opinion of him, his only reaction was to do what he could to make her be a woman, i.e. someone he could control just like Stella.

“Some things are not forgiveable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgiveable. It is the most unforgiveable thing in my opinion, and the one thing in which I have never, ever been guilty.”-Blanche discussing Stanley

The secondary characters in this play, Mitch (a potential beau for Blanche) and Eunice (upstairs neighbor and friend to Stella) are given solid backgrounds as well. Eunice seems to be just as lost as Stella is regarding how a woman she expect to be treated by her man and or husband. Mitch is a mama's boy who is always going to go through life disappointed that no woman he marries is her.

I thought the writing was great and always with just a word or phrase, Williams can depict so much with what is going on with a character. Probably the scene that was the hardest was when we get to the final confrontation between Blanche and Stanley which ends with Stanley raping her was hard. Because as a reader, things are set up enough that I realized that this was where Williams was going to go.

"We've had this date with each other since the beginning."

I hated that line though, probably because it is implied in Stanley's mind what he's about to do is welcomed by Blanche. And all because he wanted to totally destroy her and make her "see" that her life was a lie.

And at that point with the ending of the play and what comes I ended up hating the character of Stella. Because it was cruel and hard to read that poor Blanche who at that point is scared of Stanley and has told her sister what he did can't wrap her head around him still being in the apartment prior to her being carted away. We as readers know that Stella chose her husband and new baby over her sister and ended up not believing her. Or maybe she did believe her, but still chose Stanley over her (which is even worse).

The setting of New Orleans I thought was perfect for this play. I could imagine it hot, everyone sweaty, and being able to hear the crowd down below and the music coming up the stairs from the street.

I did follow up to see that the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire changed things up regarding the ending. I actually like Williams version better, maybe because it's more cruel and true to life. Though I do like the film version making sure that there was some punishment for Stanley. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Story of unstable Blanche DuBois and her brother in law Stanley Kowalski. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
A formerly-rich Southern Belle spends a few weeks with her sister and her working-class husband. No-one can know she’s really poor and desperate, but her brother-in-law feels punched in the working class by her very presence and sets out to diminish her. Tensions simmer and are expressed through spite, violence and power games.

I liked this one a lot better than Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?, which I read earlier this month. At least the characters in this one seem human, can be empathized with, show some characterization. And not just a little: they’re fully fleshed out and do not really feel like made-up people in made-up circumstances. I enjoyed not enjoying spending time with them.

Very well done! ( )
  Petroglyph | Aug 2, 2019 |
A Streetcar Named Desire is about broken men and women. How they are broken is revealed as the play progresses, but not as one might initially suspect. The transformation of Blanche is a work of magic. At start she is the voice of decorum. Then towards the end she is the exact opposite. One is not sure where or when that point crossed. Sort of a Rashomon moment. Williams is a master of this subtle perceptional shift. Ultimately though I found this to be sad play. It is voyeuristic, scandalous, compressed.
  Stbalbach | May 12, 2019 |
I read this twice in high school - once in English (and I tried out for Blanche's role. Didn't get it, but I went around saying, "Stella, Stella, Stella for star..." in a dreamy voice, imagining myself an actress) and once in German, where I was tutored by Wolfgang Muller's father, who was the round and heavy principal of a primary school, tutoring the exchange student in German. I remember having some differences of opinion with him about the meaning, and he was shocked. At something; I'm not sure what. My frankness about sex? ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Williams, TennesseeAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lustig, AlvinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miller, ArthurIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.
"The Broken Tower" by Hart Crane
First words
The exterior of a two-storey corner building on a street in New Orleans which is named Elysian Fields and runs between the L&N tracks and the river.
Stanley [bottle in hand]: Have a shot?
Blanche: No, I – I rarely touch it.
Stanley: Some people rarely touch it, but it touches them often.

Stanley: I never met a woman that didn't know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and some of them that give themselves credit for more than they've got.

Blanche: Whoever you are – I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Blanche: Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the only unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.

Blanche: They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at – Elysian Fields!
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This work refers to separate editions of the play. Please do not combine with omnibus editions which contain other plays also, nor with any other version that does not contain the full original text (e.g. abridged or simplified texts, movie adaptations, the opera, student guides or notes, etc.).
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