A Streetcar Named Desire: Character Profile – Stella



Stella is a very interesting character as she appears to be very simple and practical. Throughout the play, she constantly has to listen to both sides of the story; her character basically symbolizes the position of the audience torn between the splendor of Blanche’s glamorous dreams and the passion she feels for Stanley’s gritty, earthy, lively, vibrant world. Despite the various times Stanley beats Stella her love for Stanley is astounding as she doesn’t mind his temper and considers it as passion. Ultimately we are meant to see in Stella the plight of women in 1940’s American society: Stella is dependent on men to the extent that she has to choose to disbelieve that Stanley raped her sister so that she can go on living with him because life without the support of a man is inconceivable.



Quotations & Analysis:





“Don’t holler at me like that. Hi, Mitch”

She wants to show that she is a strong character, however the fact that Stanley has thrown a chunk of meat at her indicates how she has no control in their relationship. She is a submissive character who always ends up following whatever Stanley wants her to do as she chases after Stanley on his way to the bowling alley



“You haven’t given me a chance to, honey!” [She laughs but her glance at Blanche is little anxious]

The stage directions here might be showing that Stella is feeling embarrassed about the place she’s living in and maybe she wants to make Blanche feel more welcome in the house.



[carefully pouring herself a drink] “Tell you what, Blanche?”

Stella is very calm in comparison to Blanche as she “carefully” pours her drink whereas Blanche talks incessantly. It shows the difference between the aristocratic society and the working class society as Williams through this stage direction indicates that the working class society, through Stella’s action, has a better grip on reality.  Stella’s calmness is also significant as it indicates that there she has definitely chosen to live in Stanley’s world, despite the occasional violence



“You’ll get along fine together, if you’ll just try not to – well – compare him with men that we went out with at home.”

It clearly shows the difference between the men in Bell Reve and New Orleans. It tells us about how their society is changing from the old aristocratic order to a new industrial, working class society and how Blanche is still stuck in the past. Therefore she’s not used to the attitudes of the new order in Elysian Fields.



 [half to herself] “I can hardly stand it when he is away for a night…”

when he’s away for a week I nearly go wild!”


Even when they are in a fight, the only thing that brings them together is love and sex. The fact that she goes wild suggests passion and that she cannot live without him. As Stanley says later, she seems to have loved being pulled down from those columns.









“Don’t be such an idiot, Stanley!” and “You have no idea…Now close that trunk before she comes out of the bathroom!” contrasts with Stanley “Since when do you give me orders?”


 “No. Stanley’s the one only one of his crowd that’s likely to get anywhere”


Stella is the caring one, wishing to protect Blanche but Stanley can easily ignore her orders. From the play we get the impression that Stanley is cruel, arrogant, selfish, and an extremely dominating figure. If he's the only one that's 'likely to get anywhere' it shows that to come out on top of society you had to be all those bad things, in order to survive.



[sadly and doubtfully from the kitchen] “Do you, Blanche?” and [turning quickly away] “Why, nothing has happened, Blanche”

This is when Stella is told about Blanche’s past, at first she doesn’t believe it but then in the end she does. The stage direction shows that Stella doesn’t want to show her sister that she is weak and therefore turns away. However this may also reflect the way Stella turns her back on Blanche at the end of the play when Blanche leaves. Both of these actions are similar, as she again has to believe Stanley that the rape didn’t take place and also being forced to stay with Stanley due to the baby.






[angrily] “Indeed they have, thank heavens! I’m going outside.”


“Your face and fingers are disgustingly greasy…clear the table”

[Stella begins to cry weakly]

At first it seems like Stella actually has some power over Stanley, however he straight away bounces back and says “every man is a king! And I’m a king around here” This further emphasises the stereotypically male dominated society of Elysian Fields. Williams is trying to show us the weakness of her character in comparison to Stanley – it shows us how women were left with no choice and in the end had to follow/agree with the male. In this case Stella believes Stanley about all the accusations against her sister.


However Stella actually doesn’t mind being told what to do unlike her sister’s strategy of living in a very glamorous past. She instead chooses to face the realistic, rational and flawed world just like how her marriage with Stanley represents.


Basically Stella is like a character torn between two worlds – that is the upper class aristocratic society which she originally is from and now the middle/low working class of her husband. She has no choice but to stick with Stanley due to their love and now baby.


132 & 217

 “[To Eunice] Tell her how well she’s looking” and she says to Stanley “And admire her dress and tell her she’s looking wonderful. That’s important with Blanche. Her little weakness!”

The two quotations show that Blanche is a character who places a great deal of importance in her outward appearance, as someone from an aristocratic society would do. Stella is being considerate towards her sister because she knows that Blanche would like to be appreciated for looking good. Also the "her little weakness" shows how Blanche is dependent on others in society to maintain her character - she has very little self-confidence - she seeks approval - this is why she really wants a man in her life because he would tell her what to do.



“I don’t know if I did the right thing”

“I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley

As the audience, we feel that Stella actually knows the truth about Stanley’s rape of Blanche and that she believes her sister however because she is carrying Stanley's baby and thinks that this marriage is worth having or that she has no alternative but to stay with him and thus has to try and make herself believe that Blanche has became insane.



“What have I done to my sister? Oh, God, what have I done to my sister?”

Given that Stella cannot imagine life without Stanley, her willingness to sacrifice her sister becomes predictable. By doing this she will carry her guilt as a price to be paid for the preservation of her marriage. She cannot face the reality which she knows is true. This is similar to her sister – Blanche and how she detaches from reality and sees life only as she wishes to perceive. However, because she has seen reality before, she cannot act as if she hasn’t and thus goes insane.




Key Moment:

The key scene for Stella is the last scene as mentioned above. She has no choice because of the baby and has to sacrifice her sister to live with a man who has raped her sister on the day she was delivering her baby. This is further re-emphasized by the stage directions [He kneels beside her and his fingers find the opening of her blouse.] This clearly shows that Stella is living with a man who doesn’t care about her feelings and just wants to satisfy his own sexual desires.