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Streetcar Named Desire, A

Belle Reve

a play by Tennessee Williams, produced and published in 1948. Blanche DuBois, her life in ruins and her family home, Belle Reve, compulsorily sold and the proceeds frittered away, arrives in the Elysian Fields district of New Orleans, a virtual slum, to stay with her sister Stella and brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski. Blanche finds the coarseness of Stanley and his pals, most of them ‘Polacks’ (of Polish origin), hard to take. An understanding begins between her and a friend of Stanley's, the more sensitive Mitch. Blanche is hardly justified in her contempt for Stanley for she has left behind in Mississippi a promiscuous past. Stanley finds out about this and disabuses Mitch of the illusions he has built up around her. He then forces himself upon Blanche physically with the words: ‘We've had this date with each other from the beginning’, finally arranging for her commitment to a lunatic asylum. Stella, though distressed at her sister's plight, finds consolation in her husband's renewed physical attentions. Blanche represents the South in the twentieth century, backward-looking, at once degenerate and over-refined, proud, and whorish.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: St Juliot Cornwall to Rabindranath Tagore Biography