Describe the setting of the play. What does the house where the play
is set look like? What does the Kowalski apartment look like? What
city is the play set in? As you are introduced to each of the major
characters in the first three scenes, how does the setting help you to
understand them and their situation more?
Are there symbolic meanings suggested by the names of places (e.g. Desire,
Elysian, Cemeteries) in the play? If so, explain the symbolic meaning.
Blanche and Stella--Describe
What is she like? Why is she described as being moth-like(15)?
How is she like and unlike her sister Stella
in, for instance, the issues of appearance and class difference?
How would you describe their relationship? What is their background
like? What is Belle Reve (17; 25-26)? Is Blanche always
honest in the first three scenes? What does she think about fibs
and lies (41)? Why does she drink so much? Why does she bathe
so often? Why does she flirt with Stanley?
How does Stanley Kowalski differ from
How do they respond to each other? In what ways is he the opposite
of Blanche? Besides their different cultural background, Belle
Reve is a major reason for their conflict. How do they each handle
the conflict (37-44)? How does Stella deal with the opposition between
her sister and her husband?
Describe the relationship between Stanley and
Stella. Since Blanche and Stella are sisters and share
the same background, why do you think one sister is so attracted to Stanley
and the other so repulsed by him? Can you find out a pattern in their
marriage? Why is the word "animal" used on them (esp. Stanley; pp.
Eunice and Steve: How
are the two of them used as a foil to the major characters, here esp. Stanley
Characters: Blanche vs. Stella & Stanley;
Eunice and Steve
How does Mitch compare and contrast with Stanley? How does he respond to
Blanche? How does Blanche respond to him? Discuss his relationship with
his mother and the other men.
Characters: Mitch & Blanche
From the beginning of the play to the end it presents a
sexual tension. Describe the presence and influence of sexual desire
that you see in the first three scenes. Does the attraction between Mitch
and Blanche seem different from the attraction between Stanley and Stella?
The play includes many stage directions referring to music.
What music and songs are present in the first three scenes (e.g. "the blue
piano" on pp. 13, 32, 43; and polka , p. 31)? What is the significance
of that music? In what ways is it symbolic? How does the music relate to
Discuss Blanche's response to the light bulb
in scene three (p. 55). Light, too, has symbolic importance in the
play. Why is the paper lantern important for Blanche?
Related to light is the use of colors in this play: for instance, the tender
blue of the sky (13), the primary colors of the poke players' shirts (45)
and the "red-hot" of the vendor's (44). What do they mean?
And what do you think about Williams' style, or his use of symbols and
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Symbols: music, light & color
Stella and Blanche respond differently to Stanley's violent actions during
the poker game the previous night (at the end of scene three). What does
Blanche want to do? Who is Shep Huntleigh? What does Stella want to do?
On page 70 what does Stella suggest is the foundation of her marriage
with Stanley? In what ways is Stella being asked to choose between her
sister and her husband?
At the end of scene four Blanche reveals her thoughts about Stanley.
How does she describe and characterize him? Where is Stanley while
Blanche is talking? Does he overhear her? If so, how do you
think he would respond? When Stanley reenters the apartment at the
end of the scene, Stella runs to him and hugs him. Why is this significant?
Does it suggest something about Stella's relationship with Stanley and
her relationship with Blanche?
Describe Blanche's relationship with Stanley in scene five.
How does this latest conflict between them end? Are their conflicts in
each scene becoming increasingly more serious?
How would you describe the relationship between Steve and Eunice? Does
their marriage provide a different view of love in the play?
Characters: Blanche vs. Stella & Stanley;
Eunice and Steve
In scene five, Blanche again mentions Shep Huntleigh. Why does she
write to him? Is she honest? Why does she not tell the "truth"?
Does this letter provide a good example of what Blanche said on page 41
about fibbing and illusions?
In scene five, we see Blanche drinking again. Why does she drink? What
is she nervous about?
Can you explain the dynamics of Blanche's encounter with the newspaper
boy? Why does Blanche flirt with him?
What does Blanche want from Mitch? Is she honest with him? Describe their
relationship at the end of scene five and during scene six. Is Mitch
an aristocratic southern gentleman? If not, provide examples from
scene six to support your answer. Do they love each other? How is
their relationship different from the relationship between Stanley and
In scene six Blanche explains her relationship with her husband. What does
she unexpectedly learn about him? How does she respond to this? What does
her husband do? How does Blanche respond to his death? Does this explain
why the polka music repeats in her mind? What does this music symbolize
Characters: Blanche, her personalities, illusions,
her past and her relationship with Mitch
Do you see any significance in the brief discussion of astrological signs
on pages 76-7?
In scene six Blanche describes her experience with love in terms of light
imagery. Yet scene six takes place mostly in the dark¡Xin candlelight.
Why? Why does Blanche prefer dim light?
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At the beginning of scene seven Blanche is once again taking a hot
bath, though it's hot outside. Why does she bathe so often and for
such long periods of time? How does Stanley feel about Blanche's
baths? Why does he feel that way?
Stanley has found out the "truth" about Blanche. According to Stanley,
what is that truth? What are the two lies that he refutes?
He mentions the Flamingo Hotel. What is it? How does it relate
to Blanche? Why does Blanche in scene nine call it the "Tarantula
Arms" (118)? Why has Blanche lost her teaching job? What are
Stanley's motives for telling Mitch about Blanche's lies?
While Stanley is talking to Stella about Blanche, Blanche is in the bathroom
and the audience can hear her singing. What is the significance of her
song? Is it, too, a description of Blanche? Does it present
one side of Blanche that Stanley (and Mitch) cannot understand?
Characters: Blanche, her lies, illness, and
Describe Blanche's birthday party in scene eight. What birthday
present does Stanley give her? Why does Stanley want Blanche to leave?
How is her presence changing his marriage? How does he hope his marriage
will be after Blanche is gone? Discuss the importance of sexuality and
desire for Stanley. The party ends with Stella being taken to the hospital.
Why does she go to the hospital?
What changes do you see in the relationship between Stella and Stanley?
Between Blanche and Stanley?
Characters: Blanche vs. Stella & Stanley
How does Mitch respond to the news about Blanche that Stanley told him?
Why doesn't he want to marry Blanche anymore? Why does he tear off the
paper lantern? Why does Blanche not want him to tear it off? What
does Mitch want from Blanche at the end of the scene nine? How does
Characters: Blanche vs. Mitch
What does Blanche mean when she says on page 117, "I don't want realism.
I want magic¡K. I try to give that to people. I misrepresent
things to them. I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be
Why did Blanche have so many "intimacies with strangers" (118)?
In scene ten Blanche and Stanley are alone in the apartment. Why
is Stella not present? Blanche again mentions Shep Huntleigh. He, too,
has taken on a symbolic meaning for Blanche. What does he represent to
her? Why does she tell Stanley a lie about Shep Huntleigh? What does Stanley
mean when he asks Blanche, "Shall we bury the hatchet and make it a loving-cup"
(125)? Why does Blanche say no?
What happens between Blanche and Stanley at the end of scene ten? What
results of this can be seen in scene eleven? Why has Blanche gone
mad? Where is she being sent? Why has Stella decided to send Blanche there?
Has Stanley and Stella's marriage changed?
Scene eleven begins with another poker game. This time Stanley is
winning and Mitch is losing. Is this signficant? Does the card game also
have possible symbolic meaning? Describe how the relationship between Stanley
and Mitch has changed.
How does Blanche initially respond to the Doctor and the Matron? Why does
she later offer her hands to the Doctor? What does Blanche mean when she
says, "Whoever you are¡XI have always depended on the kindness of
strangers" (142)? Describe the relationship between Stanley and Stella
at the end of the play, after Blanche has left.
Discuss the expressionist elements that Williams uses in scene eleven.
What do they suggest about what Blanche is thinking and feeling?
What do you think is the symbolic meaning of the Mexican woman selling
flowers for the dead in scene nine?
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Character: Blanche and Blanche vs. Stanley