Title: A Streetcar Named Desire.
Author: Tennessee Williams.
Genre: Fiction, literature, play, romance, mental health.
Publication Date: December 3rd, 1947.
Summary: After the loss of her family home, Belle Reve (Blanche DuBois to creditors) travels from the small town of Laurel, Mississippi, to the New Orleans French Quarter to live with her younger, married sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Blanche is shocked the violent relationship between her sister and her husband, and immediately develops an antagonistic relationship with Stanley. Haggard and fragile, Blanche makes a pathetic last grasp at happiness with a new man, but when her hidden past comes back to haunt her, and her conflict with Stanley comes to a head, the play comes to a shocking conclusion.
My rating: 8/10.
♥ [More laughter and shouts of parting come from the men. Stanley throws the screen door of the kitchen open and comes in. He is of medium height, about five feet eight or nine, and strongly, compactly built. Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes. Since earliest manhood the center of his life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it, not with weak indulgence, dependently, but with the power and pride of a richly feathered male bird among hens. Branching out from this complete and satisfying center are all the auxiliary channels of his life, such as his heartiness with men, his appreciation of rough humor, his love of good drink and food and games, his car, his radio, everything that is his, that bears his emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer. He sizes women up at a glance, with sexual classifications, crude images flashing into his mind and determining the way he smiles at them.]
♥ STANLEY: … [He holds the bottle to the light to observe its depletion.] Have a shot?
BLANCHE: No, I-- rarely touch it.
STANLEY: Some people rarely touch it, but it touches them often.
♥ BLANCHE: Sorrow makes for sincerity, I think.
MITCH: It sure brings it out in people.
BLANCHE: The little there is belongs to people who have experienced some sorrow.
MITCH: I believe you are right about that.
BLANCHE: I’m positive that I am. Show me a person who hasn’t known any sorrow and I’ll show you a shuperficial-- Listen to me! My tongue is a little-- thick!
♥ STELLA: Blanche, you saw him at his worst last night.
BLANCHE: On the contrary, I saw him at his best! 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!
♥ STELLA: But there are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark-- that sort of make everything else seem-- unimportant. [Pause.]
BLANCHE: What you are talking about is brutal desire-- just-- Desire!-- the name of that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another…
STELLA: Haven’t you ever ridden on that street-car?
BLANCHE: It brought me here. --Where I’m not wanted and where I’m ashamed to be…
♥ BLANCHE: He acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one! There’s even something-- sub-human-- something not quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something-- ape-like about him, like one of those pictures I’ve seen in-- anthropological studies! Thousands and thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is - Stanley Kowalski - survivor of the stone age! Bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle! And you-- you here-- waiting for him! Maybe he’ll strike you or maybe grunt and kiss you! That is, if kisses have been discovered yet! Night falls and the other apes gather! There in the front of the cave, all grunting like him, and swilling and gnawing and hulking! His poker night!-- you call it-- this party of apes! Somebody growls-- some creature snatches at something-- the fight is on! God! Maybe we are a long way from being made in God’s image, but Stella - my sister - there has been some progress since then! Such things as art - as poetry and music - such kinds of new light have come into the world since then! In some kinds of people some tenderer feelings had some little beginning! That we have got to make grow! And cling to, and hold as our flag! In this dark march toward whatever it is we’re approaching… Don’t-- don’t hang back with the brutes!
♥ BLANCHE: Don’t you just love these long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour - but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands - and who knows what to do with it?
♥ When I was sixteen, I made the discovery - love. All at once and much, much too completely. It was like you suddenly turned a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow, that’s how it struck the world for me.
From the Introduction:
♥ The sort of life which I had had previous to this popular success was one that required endurance, a life of clawing and scratching along a sheer surface and holding on tight with raw fingers to every inch of rock higher than the one caught hold of before, but it was a good life because it was the sort of life for which the human organism is created.
I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed. I was out on a level plateau with my arms still thrashing and my lungs still grabbing at air that no longer resisted. This was security at last.
I saw down and looked about me and was suddenly very depressed. I thought to myself, this is just a period of adjustment. Tomorrow morning I will wake up in this first-class hotel suite above the discreet him of an East Side boulevard and I will appreciate its elegance and luxuriate in its comforts and I know that I have arrived at our American plan of Olympus. Tomorrow morning when I look at the green satin sofa I will fall in love with it. It is only temporarily that the green satin looks like smile on stagnant water.
But in the morning the inoffensive little sofa looked more revolting than the night before and I was already getting too fat for the $125 suit which a fashionable acquaintance had selected for me.
…Of course all this was the more trivial aspect of a spiritual dislocation that began to manifest itself in far more disturbing ways. I soon found myself becoming indifferent to people. A well of cynicism rose in me. Conversations al sounded like they had been recorded years ago and were being played back on a turntable. Sincerity and kindliness seemed to have gone out of my friends’ voices. I suspected them of hypocrisy. I stopped calling them, stopped seeing them. I was impatient of what I took to be inane flattery.
I got so sick of hearing people say, “I loved your play!” that I could not say thank you any more. I choked on the words and turned rudely away from the usually sincere person. I no longer felt any pride in the play itself but began to dislike it, probably because I felt too lifeless inside ever to create another. I was walking around dead in my shoes, and I knew it but there was no one I knew or trusted sufficiently, at that time, to take him aside and tell him what was the matter.
♥ One does not escape that easily from the seductions of an effete way of life. You cannot arbitrarily say to yourself, I will now continue my life as it was before this thing. Success happened to me. But once you fully apprehend the vacuity of a life without struggle you are equipped with the basic means of salvation. Once you know this is true, that the heart of man, his body and his brain, are forged in a white-hot furnace for the purpose of conflict (the struggle of creation) and that with the conflict removed, the man is a sword cutting daisies, that not privation but luxury is the wolf at the door and that the fangs of this wolf are all the little vanities and conceits and laxities that Success is heir to - why, then with this knowledge you are at least in a position of knowing where danger lies.
You know, then, that the public Somebody you are when you “have a name” is a fiction created with mirrors and that the only somebody worth being is the solitary and unseen you that existed from your first breath and which is the sum of your actions and so is constantly in a state of becoming under your own volition - and knowing these things, you can even survive the catastrophe of Success!
It is never altogether too late, unless you embrace the Bitch Goddess, as William James called her, with both arms and find in her smothering caresses exactly what the homesick little boy in you always wanted, absolute protection and utter effortlessness. Security is a kind of death, I think, and it can come to you in a storm or royalty checks beside a kidney-shaped pool in Beverly Hills or anywhere at all that is removed from the conditions that made you an artist, if that’s what you are or were or intended to be. Ask anyone who has experienced the kind of success I am talking about - What good is it? Perhaps to get an honest answer you will have to give him a shot of truth-serum but the word he will finally groan is unprintable in genteel publications.
Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that’s dynamic and expressive - that’s what’s good for you if you’re at all serious in your aims, William Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of heart is the one success worth having. “In the time of your life - live!” That time is short and it doesn’t return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, Loss, Loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition.