Book Review – A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

A Streetcar Named Desire cover

Before I start I must admit that I have already read this play once before, a few years ago when I was about 17. I read it for college and loved it and I’ve recently read it again for university. I love this play so much that I thought it would be useful to write a review on it even though it isn’t new to me.

In A Streetcar Named Desire Williams offers a bleak look at America as he showcases a post-WWII America that is dysfunctional and broken, just like his characters. Williams’ play is one of the most popular pieces of literature from this era as it focuses on everyday people and their lives. Williams is able to connect with his audience in this play, even his 21st century audience, and this is what makes A Streetcar Named Desire one of the best American plays of all time. The play deals with many ‘American’ themes such as immigration, dysfunctional relationships, the South and the Southern Belle, manual labour, and consumerism.

Stanley is a complex character that is as easy to like as he is to despise and this mixture of endearment and disgust is exactly what Williams intended when creating the character of Stanley. Stanley mixes humour and violence in a way that is uncomfortable but realistic. He is not merely a villain, he is a husband and a father and a friend. However, in the end he is a rapist and an abuser and any feelings of endearment felt towards Stanley soon dissipate at his treatment of Blanche in scene ten.

Blanche is a character that many people find difficult to sympathise with because she clings to her past and constantly lies to the other characters in the play, including her sister Stella. Blanche is a villain in her own right as she seduces, and forces herself upon, young boys, often not waiting for their consent before kissing them. She discriminates against Stanley because he is working class and he is the son of Polish immigrants and often makes derogatory remarks about Stanley to his face. However, in the end Blanche is the character that most needs our sympathy as she is isolated from her family due to her mental illness. Blanche is the victim of the play and the victim of an ever-changing America.

A Streetcar Named Desire is a complicated play and is best understood when watched (like any play is). It really is an excellent play and I recommend going to see it if you have the chance. If not, buy the film version featuring Marlon Brando because it really is the best film adaptation of this play.


Started: 2nd February 2015
Completed: 6th February 2015

3 thoughts on “Book Review – A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.