DuBois: Blanche DuBois is the elder sister of Stella.
She comes from Mississippi to stay at the apartment of her sister
and brother-in-law in New Orleans. Blanche is a sensitive, highly-strung
woman of about thirty. She is aware that she is getting older
and worries about losing her beauty. To assuage her anxiety,
she seeks out compliments on her appearance. In the decaying
environment in which she finds herself, she is very aware of
her more refined, aristocratic background. She objects to Stanley
because he is common. As the play develops, it transpires that
she has had a very troubled history. The family fortune vested
in the plantation at Belle Reve, in Mississippi, was squandered
and the house has been taken over by creditors. Blanche married
young and the marriage had a disastrous outcome when her husband,
whom she discovered in a homosexual act, shot himself. Blanche
then developed a local reputation for being promiscuous and
she was forced to leave the high school where she taught English
because of an affair with a seventeen-year-old boy. Blanche
is like a ship without an rudder. She hopes to find safe harbor
with Mitch, but the budding romance fails when Stanley reveals
her past to him. She is then devastated when Stanley presents
her with a bus ticket home. Her gradual mental deterioration
culminates in the final scene where she is committed to an institution.
She is lost in some kind of fantasy world in which she does
not know the difference between reality and illusion.
Kowalski: Stanley Kowalski is married to Stella. He
is of Polish descent, but prides himself on being an American.
Stanley is strongly built, and coarse in manners and sense of
humor. Blanche calls him an animal or a cave man. Stanley’s
pleasure has always been women, and the sexual pleasure he can
give and take. He likes to drink, and has a rowdy group of male
friends. He is also quick-tempered, and when he does not get
his way he reacts violently. He believes that the man should
be master in his own house. During one outburst, he strikes
Stella but then is remorseful and wants her back. In other incidents,
he throws a radio out of the window, and sweeps cups and saucers
to the floor. He does not like to be challenged. Whatever his
faults, Stanley is full of uninhibited masculine energy that
Stella finds alluring, and that is why she loves him. But Stanley
behaves cruelly toward Blanche, finding out about her past and
telling Mitch about it. Stanley believes that Blanche is responsible
for disturbing his happiness with Stella. On her birthday, he
causes her anguish by presenting her with a bus ticket home.
When Stella is in the hospital giving birth to their child,
Stanley rapes Blanche. But he gets away with it because Stella
refuses to believe Blanche’s story.
Kowalski: Stella Kowalski is Blanche’s younger
sister, who is married to Stanley. The sexual attraction between
Stella and her husband is strong, and although Stanley is coarse
in his manners and aggressive, Stella remains in love with him.
She has adjusted well to the difference in their social backgrounds
and appears to be happy with her lot, in spite of Stanley’s
violent outbursts. She refuses to believe Blanche’s story
that she was raped by Stanley, and arranges for Blanche to be
committed to an institution. However, she feels guilty over
Mitch is a close friend of Stanley’s. They were in the
army together and they work for the same company. Mitch is a
member of the mens’ poker-playing group. Mitch is a shy
man, less uncouth than the others, and still very attached to
his mother. He falls for Blanche, but then rejects her when
he discovers her unsavory past. He is tormented when he sees
her being taken away to the institution, and blames Stanley
for her fate.
Pablo is a friend of Stanley’s and a member of their poker
Steve is one of Stanley’s poker-playing friends. He is
married to Eunice. They have a stormy relationship rather like
that between Stella and Stanley.
Eunice is married to Steve. They live in the apartment above
Doctor: The Doctor appears in the last scene to take
Blanche to the mental institution. He is surprisingly gentle
with Blanche, and she allows him to lead her away.
Nurse: The Nurse accompanies the doctor to take Blanche
to the mental institution. In her severe dress, she looks sinister.
Young Collector: The Young Collector is a young man
who comes to the Kowalski apartment collecting newspaper money.
Blanche takes a fancy to him and kisses him.
Mexican Woman: A Mexican Woman is a blind woman who
sells flowers to be displayed at funerals and other festive