Not quite a heroine, Blanche is the complicated protagonist of the play. She is a faded Southern belle without a dime left to her name, after generations of mismanagement led to the loss of the family fortune. Blanche spent the end of her youth watching the older generation of her family die out before losing the DuBois seat at Belle Reve. This experience, along with the suicide of her young homosexual husband, deadened Blanche's emotions and her sense of reality. Desire and death became intricately linked in her life as she led a loose and increasingly careless life, and indeed, after losing her position as a schoolteacher she is forced to depend on the kindness of her one living relation, her sister Stella. Blanche tries to continue being the Southern belle of her youth, but she is too old and has seen too much, and soon her grip on reality begins to slip. She has difficulty understanding the passion in her sister's marriage and is coolly calculating in her relationship with Mitch - yet barely manages to suppress a latent nymphomania.
Stella Kowalski, Blanche's younger sister, is about twenty-five years old and pregnant with her first child. Stella has made a new life for herself in New Orleans and is madly in love with her husband Stanley - their idyllic relationship is steeped in physical passion. Stella is forthright and unapologetic about the nature of her relationship with her husband, and although she loves her sister, she is pragmatic and refuses to let anything come between her and Stanley.
Stanley Kowalski, Stella's husband, is a man of solid, blue-collar stock - direct, passionate, and often violent. He has no patience for Blanche and the illusions she cherishes. Moreover, he is a controlling and domineering man, demanding subservience from his wife in the belief that his authority is threatened by Blanche's arrival. Blanche, however, sees him as a primitive ape driven only by instinct. In the end, though, Stanley proves he can be as cold and calculating as she is.
Harold "Mitch" Mitchell
One of Stanley's friends. Mitch is as tough and "unrefined" as Stanley. He is an imposing physical specimen, massively built and powerful, but he is also a deeply sensitive and compassionate man. His mother is dying, and this impending loss affects him profoundly. He is attracted to Blanche from the start, and Blanche hopes that he will ask her to marry him. Indeed, Mitch is a fundamentally decent man and seeks only to settle down. But when the truth about Blanche's history comes to light, he feels swindled by her.
Eunice Hubbell is the owner of the apartment building, and Steve's wife. She is generally helpful, offering Stella and Blanche shelter after Stanley beats Stella. Indeed, she has a personal understanding of the Kowalskis' relationship because it mirrors her own. In the end, she advises Stella that in spite of Blanche's tragedy, life must go on.
Steve Hubbell is Eunice's husband, and owner of the apartment building. As one of the poker players, Steve has the final line of the play. It comes as Blanche is carted off to the asylum and Steve coldly deals another hand.
Pablo Gonzales is one of the poker players, who punctuates games with Spanish phrases.
The Negro Woman is a non-naturalistic character; it seems that the actor playing this role is in fact playing a number of different Negro women, all minor characters. Emphasizing the non-naturalistic aspect of the character, in the original production of Streetcar, the "Negro Woman" was played by a male actor.
A Strange Man (The Doctor)
The Doctor arrives at the end to bring Blanche on her "vacation." After the Nurse has pinned her, the Doctor succeeds in calming Blanche. She latches onto him, depending, now and always, "on the kindness of strangers."
A Strange Woman (The Nurse)
The Nurse is a brutal and impersonal character, institutional and severe in an almost stylized fashion. She wrestles Blanche to the ground.
A Young Collector
The Young Collector comes to collect money for the paper. Blanche throws herself at him shamelessly.
A Mexican Woman
The Mexican Woman sells flowers for the dead during the powerful scene when Blanche recounts her fall from grace.
A Streetcar Named Desire Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for A Streetcar Named Desire is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
This theme is all through this play. By the end of the book, Stella is torn between believing that Stanley raped her sister or believe that Blanche is lying. This is a great example of the conflicts and pain that can come from love. In my copy,...
We learn in the stage direction that Blanche is exhausted.... likely because of a medical condition called neurasthenic personality, which is "an ill-defined medical condition characterized by lassitude, fatigue, headache, and irritability,...