A comparison and contrast article between Blanche and Stella in the play "A Streetcar Named Desire"
Stella and Blanche are two sisters who, through a single event, became two entirely different people. When Stella moved away from her home in Belle Reve, she became a wife to a working class Polish man. Blanche decided to stay at her crumbling home and maintain her lifestyle as a southern bell. However, their common ancestry of living in the same home has provided them with a few similar qualities in their lives. They both want a man that can take care of them and can support a moderate lifestyle. They want to have decent lives, but they have very different means to accomplishing these goals. It is the events after Belle Reve that show the differences and similarities between these two sisters.
When Stella chose to leave Belle Reve and marry Stanley, she made a decision to have a less conservative way with men than Blanche. Stanley is not a gentlemen like Blanche wants, but a simple worker. In Stanley’s own words, “Listen, baby, when we first met – you and me – you thought I was common. Well, how right you was. I was common as dirt.” Stella doesn’t care if Stanley is a gentlemen. She cares that he has ambition, loves her and can care for her in a reasonable manner.
Blanche wants a gentlemen to be her husband, like in her original marriage when she was very young. When it became clear to her that this is no longer possible, she becomes a prostitute. She travels around to different towns across the south, trying to find a replacement for that original husband. Even when she obtains a real job as a teacher, she is not able to stop this urge for men as she begins a relationship with a seventeen year old student.
It is after these events that another difference is highlighted between these two sisters. Blanche chooses to be deceitful in her courtship of Mitch and other male relationships in her past. She does not reveal anything about her former life to him that could be incriminating. She also uses some tactics to disguise her age from Mitch as, at the time, it was not common to marry an older woman. Blanche only accepts a date from with Mitch when it takes place at night to hide her face so she can play the part of an innocent southern bell. She is somewhat aware that she is lying, but it never truly dawns on her how deep her world is not in touch with reality. “I know I fib a good deal. After all, a woman’s charm is 50% illusion.(Blanche)” It is only when her past actions come to light through Stanley’s investigation that her true intents are revealed. Mitch then realizes that he has been deceived about this supposed southern beautie’s age and real goals. “Oh I don’t mind you being older than what I thought. But all the rest of it. That pitch about your ideals being so old-fashioned and all the malarkey that you’ve been dishin’ out all summer. Oh, I knew you weren’t sixteen anymore. But I was fool enough to believe you was straight.(Mitch)” This event forever changes Blanche and ultimately becomes the main reason why she goes crazy. Her deceit and lust for a man to take care of her becomes her downfall.
Stella has a different way of dealing with men. She allows Stanley to be dirty around her, allowing such things as a smack on the butt. She is also a lot more tolerant of Stanley’s rough behavior than Blanche, especially when Stanley is drunk. When Stanley attacks Stella after Blanche’s actions with the radio during the poker game, she eventually crawls back to him from the upstairs apartment. Blanche is stunned that Stella would do this and not run away from Stanley. Blanche can not grasp how a man could act so ungentlemanly and still have Stella’s love. Stella also lets Stanley have a lot more control over their relationship than Blanche would have with Mitch. Blanche does everything possible to keep control over her relationship with Mitch. With Stella, one word of the Napoleonic code from Stanley appears to immediately persuade her to follow whatever Stanley wants to do. This includes the end scene where Stanley has convinced everyone that Blanche is crazy, including Stella, and makes her go to an insane asylum. Stella is mostly obedient to men, while Blanche tries to control her relationships and be less open about her past.
A final main difference between these two characters is their respective self images. Despite her loss of Belle Reve and her shady past relationships with men, Blanche still thinks of herself as a southern bell. She is no longer young, but she tries to play the part of a sophisticated daughter of a wealthy family that no longer exists. For the most part, she is completely oblivious as to how inappropriate her current and past actions are given her situation.
Stella had thrown away her image of a southern bell when she left Belle Reve. Stella is now a wife and mother in a working class family. She knows this fact and accepts it wholeheartedly. There is no longer a need in her mind for servants, gentlemen-like husbands or sprawling houses from her past life. She has put the desire for her past life behind her long ago and the only link to that past comes from Blanche. While her appearance does bring back some of Stella’s past personality, these memories are quickly forgotten and she is absorbed back into the role of an ordinary wife.
Despite these vast differences between Stella and Blanche’s relationships, self images and different lifestyles, there are a few similarities between these two sisters. They both share a strong desire to find strong men who can take care of them. Stella finds Stanley, and Blanche tries to get Mitch to marry her along with every other man in the south. They also both share a strong connection with Belle Reve. Even though Stella moved away years ago, she is still stunned when Blanche tells her the news that Belle Reve is lost. Finally, both Stella and Blanche are prone to overlooking important problems. Blanche overlooks her problem with men and her husband’s suicide effects on her. Stella overlooks Blanche’s problems when Stanley discovers the truth about her past.
Blanche and Stella more many differences than similarities. They have different ideals on their relationships, self images , lifestyles and deceptiveness. However, because of their shared origin and family, they do share a few unique qualities. The events of their lives have caused them to become different in many ways; yet, their shared blood still shines through and shows that family never completely fades away in time.