A Streetcar Named Desire: Scene Notes – Scene 3
Summary of scene:
The scene begins with the men playing poker in
Stella and Blanche return from the show.
· Blanche undresses in the light through the portieres in order to attract Mitch’s attention and pretends she didn’t realise she was in the light when Stella tells her to move.
· When Stella goes into the bathroom, Blanche moves back into the streak of light.
· Mitch uses going to the bathroom as an excuse to go back into the bedroom to see Blanche.
· Mitch shows her his silver cigarette case and Blanche pretends she can’t make out the inscription in order to make Mitch move closer with a lighted match – it appears they have both lost a loved one
· Blanche says that she doesn’t usually have more than one drink and admits that she had had three that night in an attempt to flirt with Mitch and imply that she could be taken advantage of if he wished
· Blanche tells Mitch that Stella is her older sister although she calls her “little sister”.
· She also asks him to put a lantern over a light bulb, as she cannot stand a “naked light bulb”.
· Blanche appears to be fishing for compliments and Mitch does give her those compliments, although he appears to be sincere rather than obliging.
· When Blanche turns on the radio again and begins dancing with Mitch who is delighted but, unable to dance, shuffles in an ungainly fashion resembling a bear
· Mitch says that poker should not be played amongst women.
· Blanche is shocked and takes Stella upstairs to Eunice.
· The scene ends with Blanche and Mitch talking on the steps of the building.
Pg 145 – “I think I will bathe.” “Again.” – The
fact that Blanche requires a bath again suggests that she might have the need
to subconsciously wash something away. At this point the audience is not sure
what although we suspect it may be to do with the death of her husband. In
reality, if she were washing anything away it is more likely to be the memories
of disgraceful dismissal from the school in
is also explored with
Light/the avoidance of light
· Pg 146/147 – Blanche purposely stands in the streak of yellow light when undressing. This could be because only the outline of her body is shown, as opposed to the actual view of her body which reinforces the view of her character as being insecure about her appearance but desirous of attracting male attention.
· Pg 150 – “I can’t stand a naked light bulb” – Blanche may feel that the naked light is unflattering and may show any flaws that she might not want Mitch to see. The bright naked light could also symbolise a harsh, rough society, one that is ‘beneath’ her and that she looks down on.
Blanche’s reluctance to be in the light could be
for the following reasons: she feels the light reveals her true age
(deteriorating beauty); metaphorically, she feels the light will reveal her
past; the light reveals the truth she tries to hide. It is also a symbol of the
world she wishes to hide from, the world of ugly truths and grim realities
which contrasts with
· The game of poker reflects the lively atmosphere of Elysian Fields: the colours of the shirts, the lurid light over the table, the greasy food and beer all help create a scene seething with life and excess which is in stark contrast to the aristocratic and gentile society from which Blanche and Stella originally come. There is a down to earth honesty and sense of friendship and camaraderie among the men at the table which we never witness between characters from the upper classes however this positive picture of life in New Orleans is consistently undermined throughout the scene by Stanley’s coarse, violent and bullying nature which represents the downside of this more ‘honest’ way of life.
Pg 152 – [There is the sound of a blow].
Male vs. female conflict
Pg 145 – [Stanley gives a loud whack of his hand
on her thigh] – Stanley is playing the stereotypical role of the husband who
feels like he owns his wife and therefore can treat her in any way he wants,
hence the numerous
imperatives directed towards her such as, “why don’t you women go up and sit
with Eunice,” in addition to the sexually possessive action of striking her thigh. The sense of male dominance is
reinforced by Stella’s ineffective response, as she says “sharply: that’s not
dominance is evident here even among the men as
· Pg 150 – Mitch describes himself as being “rough” and this has connotations of being rugged and tough. Blanche has shown herself to be someone who would look down on people of a lower class, like Mitch. In this scene however, she says that she is “adaptable” and this suggests that perhaps she is so desperate to depend on a man that she is willing to ignore what she has always been concerned with: social class.
· Pg 150 – “Thank you sir! I appreciate your gallantry!” – Blanche is shown to be very dependent on Mitch for compliments and reassurances about her appearance. This could also be seen as Blanche attempting to assert some form of control over Mitch by seducing him, as he seems to be very enamoured with her. The word ‘gallantry’ has connotations of being brave and strong; all the qualities a ‘real man’ should have, and Blanche uses this word to describe Mitch. Again this suggests that she is looking for a man whom she can depend on.
Pg 152 – “Drunk – drunk – animal thing, you!
… You lay your hands on me and I’ll – ” – Once again
Stella’s attempt to remonstrate with
Pg 154 – while it is possible to view Stanley as
emasculated here when he is crying out for Stella a more plausible
interpretation is that this excessive remorse is just another example of how
Stanley’s character is one of extremes, varying from violence to regret within
a matter of minutes. Here Williams may be revealing the more animalistic,
immoderate behaviour of the working classes which violently swings from one
extreme to the other with little notice – we see this repeated again later in
the play with Steve and Eunice after their fight. This interpretation is
reinforced by Stella’s lack of lines when she comes back to
· Pg 155 – “I’m terrified!” “Ho-ho! There’s nothing to be scared of.” – Blanche is playing the weak, frightened female role while Mitch takes the role of the fearless, protective male. Blanche could be feigning her fear (although this is probably unlikely) in which case it is ironic that she needs to act like a weak female in order to be the stronger character.
Declining upper class vs. burgeoning working class
· Firstly, the playing of poker itself indicates the lively atmosphere that these people have, opposed to the aristocratic society.
· Pg 150 – “I’m very adaptable – to circumstances.” – Blanche came from a higher social standing and is not used to the kind of men that she encounters while staying with Stella. The loss of the family home and wealth forces Blanche to lower her usual standards and this may be why she finds Mitch attractive. She feels that he is “superior” to the others and this shows that she still does retain an aristocratic attitude by judging people based on their status.
· The sister’s conversation reflect the theme of rich aristocratic societies verses the simple basic immigrant lives as Stella’s old values are echoed in her dialogue; “[with girlish laughter] You ought to see their wives.” This comparison indicates how Stella may always have some part of her past present in her.
Pleasant dreams vs. ugly reality
Pg 154 – [Her eyes go blind with tenderness]
- Even after
Loneliness/longing for love:
· In this scene, Blanche is portrayed as being desperate as she is trying to attract Mitch. This can also be seen as her being lonely and longing for love. With this interpretation, the audience can feel sympathy for her as she just wants a companion and perhaps they audience can forgive her slightly manipulative ways to look like a woman in need of a man to look after her.
· The theme of loneliness is reflected by Mitch’s need to go home early to assist his ailing mother. Both Blanche and Mitch have lost a loved one and thus further demonstrates their desperation to find a replacement.
The Destructive Nature of Desire
Physical love being destructive is revealed with
the reunion of Stella and Stanley with, “low animal moans.” It is disturbing that after such horrific violence experienced
by Stella, her love is so strong that she comes back to
Stanley Is portrayed as
the strong, dominant male, who we now see as the potential villain in this
play, as he is unable to control his violence. Williams uses
Pg 144 – “Aw, for God’s sake, go home, then!” –
Pg 145 – “Where you been?” “Till we get ready to
Pg 147 – “Well, you can hear me and I said to hush
up!” – Here
Pg 148 – “[yelling]
Sit down!” –
Pg 151/152 –
Pg 153 – [
Pg 153 – “My baby doll’s left me!” [He breaks
into sobs.] – This is a drastic contrast to his previous temper. However,
the audience may not feel sympathy for
Stella remains a passive, submissive
character, who at points threatens her husband, “if
you lay your hands on me I’ll…” but is quickly overpowered. Stella is a tool used to represent the oppression
of women present in
Pg 145 – [Sharply] “That’s not fun,
· Pg 147 – “This is my house and I’ll talk as much as I want to!” – This line conveys a strong sense of power and control and this is one of the few times when Stella’s assertion of herself is not undermined.
Pg 152 – “Drunk – drunk – animal thing, you!
… You lay your hands on me and I’ll – ” The second part
of this quotation sounds like Stella is threatening
Pg 154 – Stella had previously said, “I want to go
away, I want to go away!” (Pg 152) and this shows her
standing up for herself and by doing so, gaining the upper hand over
· Throughout the scene Stella is portrayed as a character struggling to gain a sense of control, or at least an equal standing, in the relationship but constantly failing.
She is seen as a flirtatious character in this scene as she is very friendly with Mitch. Again desperation is shown here. Blanche intentionally moves into the light when she is undressing so as to be noticed. This is a manifestation of Blanche’s desire to be the centre of attention, and her use of her body to attract attention foreshadows her later attempts to seduce Mitch. Blanche lies about her age saying, “Stella is my precious litter sister. I call her little in spite of the fact that she’s somewhat older than I,” and that she “came down to help her for a while.” On the other hand, there is something very sincere about Blanche's affection and kindness. She lies, but never with the intent to hurt. She seeks to become what she thinks will please others. We sympathize her for this and again her character is used to portray the desperation of women is a restrictive society, where beauty has a significant stance.
· Pg 144 – “Wait till I powder before you open the door.” – This is evidence that Blanche is overly obsessed with her image and with her appearance and shows how superficial she can be.
· Pg 146 – “That one seems – superior to the others.” – Blanche is shown to still be concerned with status and social standing and only appears to be attracted to Mitch, as he looked “superior” to the others.
· Pg 146/147 – Blanche undresses in the light of the portieres and pretends not to notice (“Oh, am I!”). She is presented here as being desperate as she is resorting to measures such as these to attract men.
· Pg 148 – “[She has slipped on the dark red satin wrapper.]” – This description portrays Blanche as the flirtatious seductress. The colour red has connotations of romance and passion and thus makes it seem as though she is deliberately trying to gain Mitch’s attention.
· Pg 149 – [reading with feigned difficulty] – This again portrays her as playing a weaker female role in order to attract a protective male such as Mitch. This manipulation gives her more power.
· Pg 149 – “The little there is belongs to people who have experienced some sorrow.” – This quotation creates the impression that she herself has experienced sorrow, which we learned about in scene 2 where she talks about the boy who loved her, which creates sympathy for her.
· Pg 149 – “I’m not accustomed to having more than one drink.” – This obvious lie presents Blanche as an alcoholic and shows how she lies to preserve her image as a dainty, feminine figure. This suggests that perhaps some of Blanche’s other actions may have been a show to maintain a clean image and does not reflect her true character.
· Pg 150 – “Put it over the light bulb! Will you, please?” – The fact that the imperative comes before her politely requesting Mitch to carry out the task reminds the audience of her aristocratic background as it suggests that she is used to ordering people to do things for her. The question following this imperative makes her seem as though she is trying to gain Mitch’s favour by making her seem as the weak female who needs someone else to take care of her.
· Pg 150 – “I’m an old maid schoolteacher!” – Blanche is fishing for compliments and this shows her insecurities and fears about her appearance.
· Pg 152 – “I want my sister’s clothes! We’ll go to that woman upstairs!” – Blanche seems to be showing genuine concern for her sister and this redeems her character slightly and we see her capable of making quick, sensible decisions
· Pg 154 – “[…She looks right and left as if for sanctuary…”] – This quotation creates a sense of sympathy for her as she seems lost and vulnerable. It also echoes one of the possible reasons for having come to Elysian Fields: she is looking for a new home now that she has lost Belle Reve.
A new character is explored in detail in this scene. In some ways Mitch is similar to Blanche, being lonely and perhaps desperate but Mitch’s experiences have engendered in him a strong sincerity and he acts practically and thus we sympathize with him more as Blanche tries to take advantage of his vulnerability.
· Pg 144 – “All the while I keep wondering how she is.” – Mitch shows sensitivity here and the audience sees him as being slightly different from the other men as he openly shows concern for his mother and is perhaps less rough and “macho” as the other men.
Pg 146 – Stella and Blanche’s discussion about
Stanley and Mitch’s jobs – this conversation revealed that
Pg 148 – “[MITCH
laughs uncomfortably and continues through the portieres…]” – This
quotation may present him as weak as, even though
Pg 150 – Mitch’s lines are mostly short,
monosyllabic words and these could show his interest in Blanche as he is
willing to let her talk while he listens. This again sets him apart from the
other men as he, in contrast to
· Pg 150 – “I guess we strike you as being a pretty rough bunch.” – This quotation shows that Mitch is self-aware, thus making him seem superior to the other men.
Pg 152 – “Poker should not be played in a house
with women.” – again we see a sensitive side to Mitch as he appears to be aware
that there are certain rules about behaviour that should be followed and some
things that should not be done in front of women. This harks back to the values
of the aristocratic society which Blanche represents and suggests that those
values are not completely lost in the new world of Elysian Fields. However,
Mitch’s utter insignificance in comparison to
Pg 152 – “Get him in here, men.” – Mitch had
previously been seen as the weaker male in the group. However, when
· Pg 155 – “There’s nothing to be scared of.” – This line presents Mitch as being strong and he is shown to feel protective about Blanche as this line was said to reassure Blanche. Although, tragically, it also reveals how common domestic violence is in Elysian Fields and how accustomed people have become to it
· The audience get a generally good impression of Mitch in this scene as he is shown to be caring, strong, and protective.
· Pg 155 – “Such a pretty silver case.” – Blanche appears to be more concerned with the silver case as she says this line when Mitch is asking her to sit with him on the steps, further emphasised by the fact that she already pointed this out earlier (“What a pretty case. Silver?” – Page 149). This reflects how she is superficial and is concerned with outward appearances and materialistic things. The ‘silver’ also has connotations of being more sophisticated than another metal such as ‘tin’ and could explain why Blanche focuses on the “pretty silver case”.
· The image of Blanche standing p. 146 “in her pink brassiere and white skirt in the light,” is important as this is the only time so far we see her seeking the light, suggesting her desperation as she shows off her body to entice Mitch. This is also seen when she dances in front of him once again and begins to “waltz[es] to the music with romantic gestures.” The contrast to the description of Blanche dancing to Mitch’s dance when he p. 151 “moves in an awkward imitation like a dancing bear” also highlights the contrast between the upper and lower class as Blanche is the only one who is experienced with this dance form usually seen in aristocratic parties.
Violent imagery is present throughout the whole
scene, finally ending with “the sound of blow” when
· Pg 154 – “[…There he throws his head back like a baying hound and bellows his wife’s name…”] – The animal imagery created here works to show Stanley’s strength and makes him seem more rough and wild violent. There is also animal imagery when Stella and Stanley reunite as this is done with, “low animal moans.”
This scene is set in the Kowalskis’
apartment and once again we see how being inside does not afford any safety or
Relation of part to whole:
This scene comes after scene 2, which is where the
audience find out that Stella is pregnant. This makes
This scene develops two key relationships. Firstly,
the interaction between Stanley and Stella which develops Stanley’s character
in that we see his violent nature as well as the fact that he does have some
weaknesses (seen when he is calling out for Stella). It also develops Stella’s
character as we see that even when she does take some step towards taking
control, she loses her confidence and her love for
Secondly, the interaction between Mitch and Blanche
is important as it allows the audience to become acquainted with Mitch who is a
prominent character in this scene: we learn that is mature, and protective, and
seems to contrast