In A Streetcar Named Desire, Stella Kowalski takes on the central role. She is the connection that brings all the characters together. Being the sister of Blanche and the wife of Stanley Kowalski puts her in between two worlds. She tries to maintain a balance between the two, however, as the play unravels she must decide which reality she wants to live in. Even though Stella is rarely ‘acting’ throughout the play, as she spends most of the time mediating, her actions changes the course of the play and to ensure her own survival.
In the beginning of the play, Stella, is a realistic and complacent character; as she makes the best of the life she shares with Stanley. After the fight between Stanley and Stella she expresses that, ”it wasn’t anything as serious as you seem to take it” (Williams 72), to Blanche. She accepts him for who he is a brute, with animalistic tendencies. She is happy and excited by the good his violent side brings to their relationship, and does not let the defective parts of the violence bother her. Trying to convince Blanche, Stella recalls, “Stanley’s always smashed things. Why, on our wedding night…he smashed all the light bulbs with the heel of my slipper [she laughs]”(Williams 72). Her laughter throughout this whole scene emphasizes the differences between the old society she lived in and the ideals that Blanche still holds on to, dearly. It also illustrates that Stella downgraded herself and has grown accustom to this behavior from her sophisticated upbringing. However, with the introduction of Blanche’s ideals, Blanche begins to destroy her life with Stanley.
The climax of the fight between Blanche and Stanley forces Stella to choose between the two in order to sustain her own existence. With the story of Stanley raping Blanche, Stella states,“ I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley” (Williams 165). She makes a conscious decision to not even consider the possibility of her sister’s story in order to be able to maintain the loving life she lives in with Stanley. Furthermore, Stella is also expressing that she is not considering a life without Stanley. This is a logical decision as she has a child and life with Stanley. Stella relies on him for economical and emotional support; therefore leaving him would destroy her whole world and thus condemning her to a fate similar to her sister. As Blanche leaves, “there is something luxurious in [Stella’s] complete surrender to crying now that her sister is gone” (Williams 179). Her tears hints at Stella subconsciously knowing the truth, but is remorseful, as she must deny it to “go on living”. Self-perseverance is above all else; this is the horror of reality and Stella must now bear the burden of the truth.
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. U.S.A.: New Directions Publishing, 1947. Print.