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MonkeyNotes-A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
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Scene 4

Summary

The next morning Stella is alone on the bed, looking serene and contented. Blanche appears, looking nervous and hysterical. She has spent a sleepless night upstairs. When she sees Stella, she rushes up to her addressing her in a tone of hysterical tenderness. Stella draws away, stiff and distant, Blanche questions Stella's sanity in returning to Stanley after his animalistic behavior. Stella tells her to stop making a mountain out of a molehill and defends Stanley, saying that he was too drunk to know what he was doing. She has obviously forgiven her rough husband. Stanley has always been "macho" and violent, and she has accepted these traits and is almost thrilled by them. In fact, his radically different background and crude behavior had captured her heart.

When Blanche labels Stanley "a madman", Stella protests strongly. Blanche tries to convince her that her marital life is a mess and that she should not surrender to Stanley so meekly and pick up garbage after him. She counsels her to get out of the marriage. Stella emphatically tells her, "I'm not in anything I want to get out of." Blanche, nevertheless, plans to go ahead with her plan of rescuing Stella and herself and making a new life for them both. To accomplish her goal, she knows she will need money, for money is power. She remembers an old admirer, Shep Huntleigh, whom she says she met on a vacation in Miami the preceding Christmas. Unfortunately for her, Shep, a very wealthy Texas oilman, is a married man. She tries to contact Shep long-distance but is unable to compose a message. When Stella asks her to stop being ridiculous, Blanche explains that she is desperate because she is down to her last 65 cents. Stella offers her five dollars to tide her over temporarily.

Blanche continues to criticize Stanley, calling him bestial and sub- human and begs Stella once again to leave him. The entire conversation is overheard by Stanley, who has silently crept in unseen by the two sisters. He now knows just how much a threat that Blanche is to him, and he silently promises revenge. When he enters, Stanley casually makes conversation and gives no indication of what he has overheard. Stella has listened seriously to Blanche, but in a very telling gesture embraces Stanley fiercely and in full view of Blanche. This is Stanley's victory over his sister-in-law, for he now knows that come what may, Stella will never leave him. As a result he grins at Blanche triumphantly.


Notes

In this scene, the character of Blanche is more fully developed. She is the typical elder sister, advising the younger when no advice is requested. Hence, in attempting to talk Stella out of her marriage and her present life style, Blanche only succeeds in distancing herself from her sister. Stella also ridicules Blanche's impractical approach towards life when she attempts to contact Shep to solve her problems.

Blanche's demeaning remarks about Stanley not only alienate her from Stella but create an intense resentment in Stanley, for he has overheard her conversation with his wife. Williams established Stanley's resentment early in the play and it builds until the rape scene near the end of the drama. That Stanley is ultimately going to be victorious over Blanche is hinted at scene's end when Stanley gloats over Stella's physical dependence on him; he knows that Stella will never leave him.

This scene presents the sharp contrast between the two sisters. Stella has outgrown her way of life at Belle Reve and has made huge compromises in her decision to love and stay with Stanley. She had always taken second place to her older sister at Belle Reve and continues to do the same with her husband. But Blanche, being a widow and financially independent, is used to doing things her way. She has never felt the need to compromise like Stella. Though Blanche insists that she is not being superior in her judgments, she is, in fact, being her natural aristocratic self. Stella resents the attitude.

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