A Streetcar named Desire was written by Tennessee Williams, during the restless years following World War II. The play was based on the life of a woman named Blanche Dubois. Blanche was a fragile and neurotic woman, desperate for a place to call her own. She had been exiled from her hometown Laurel, Mississippi after seducing a seventeen year old boy. After this incident, she decided to move to New Orleans with her sister Stella.
Never stable even as a girl, she was shattered by her husband's suicide and the circumstances surrounding it. Later the harrowing deaths at Belle Reve with which she evidently had to cope on her own, also took their toll. By this time she had begun her descent into promiscuity and alcoholism, and in order to blot out the ugliness of her life she created her fantasy world of adoring respectful admirers, of romantic songs and gay parties. She is never entirely successful at this, as the memories of her husband's suicide remain persistently alive in her mind. She retreats into her make-believe world, making her committal to an institution inevitable.
She attempts to hide from her past, but eventually the people there find out she had many affairs, even one with a student, and was forced to leave her teaching job (Marotous, 2006). At the end of the play she begins losing her mind and is sent to a mental hospital. The play opened on December 3, 1947 and had instant success. It premiered five years after World War II and it “enfolded all the anxieties of the era in its story of perverse gentility colliding with the earthy truths of the working class.” (Hagopian, 2014) This is also why it went on to be made into a movie in 1951 with the screenplay written by Tennessee Williams and Oscar Saul. The play connects to Williams’s life and his struggle to find satisfaction in his sexual relationships.
Take a look into the life of Blanche Dubois and it will be evident that an insane asylum was the wrong place for her. From the loss of her loved ones and childhood home, to her career as a prostitute, and ending with her rape, there is no denying that Blanche Dubois just needed love and support from her family. Tragic events have a huge effect on a person’s metal state and Blanche Dubois’ life was full of tragedy. She had gone through a painful life at a young age; starting with the unforeseen affair that her husband had with another man and his suicide immediately after it was revealed. Loss is already tough to deal with but suicide the widow is left with feelings of stigma and guilt.
Blanche has a devastating and scarring past in which her tragic flaw originates from. The elements of love, sex, and death haunt her until she is unable to handle it any longer and loses what is left of her sanity and sparks her unstable mind. To expatiate, Blanche was once married to the love of her life, Allen Grey, until she found him in bed with another man. Her husband shoots himself after Blanche says she is disgusted by him. This horrific event has an enormous impact on Blanche’s life and is key to her later behavior.
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 (Williams). Stella Kowalski is Blanche’s younger sister, about twenty-five years old. Stella left Laurel, Mississippi in her late teens and moved to New Orleans. She then met and married Stanley Kowalski, who is lower-class, but she loves and cares for him dearly.
As result of Stella's lack of support, we see Blanche become dependent on alcohol and lose her mental state. Blanche comes to be a a terrible reck through out the play as we learn of the details of her life at Bel Reve. Her loss of the entire estate and her struggle to get through an affair with a seventeen year old student. This baggage that Blanche carries on her shoulders nips at Stella through out eventually causing the demise of her relationship. As Blanche's visit goes on with Stella, the nips become too great and with the help of Stanley, Stella has Blanche committed to a mental hospital, thus symbolizing the death of the realtionship they once had.
She has reached a place with the nightmares in her mind, but she can’t bear the interruption of ugly reality into her make-believe world. Stanley's disclosures of her past, Mitch's rejection of her as "not clean enough" and his clumsy attempt at raping her, and finally her rape by Stanley on the night when her sister is giving birth to his child - all these destroy our protagonist and her mind gives way. She retreats into her make-believe world, making her committal to an institution inevitable.
From the point her husband pulled the trigger Blanche has felt nothing but despair and desire. She turned to anything that made her feel better and unfortunately it was prostitution. She lost her and Stella’s house and acts like it wasn’t her fault. She arrives at New Orleans looking for a new life and someone to complain and wine to, this being her sister. She has no place left to go but Stella’s house this is her only opportunity to start over.
As she caught him one evening in their house with an older man, she said nothing, permitting her disbelief to build up inside her. Sometime later that evening, while the two of them were dancing, she told him what she had seen and how he disgusted her. Immediately, he ran off the dance floor and shot himself, with the gunshot forever staying in Blanche’s mind. After that day, Blanche believed that she was really at fault for his suicide. She became promiscuous, seeking a substitute men (especially young boys), for her dead husband, thinking that she failed him sexually.