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4.5 out of 5 stars 300 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: John Lehmann; First Edition edition (1949)
  • ASIN: B00E0B28ZU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (300 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Tennessee Williams's masterfully written drama explores the extremes of fantasy versus reality, the Old South versus the New South, and primitive desire versus civilized restraint. Its meager 142 page spine is no indication of the complexity and significance that Williams achieves in his remarkable work. A strong aspect of the play is Williams's amazingly vivid portrayal of desperate and forsaken characters who symbolize and presumably resolve his battles between extremes. He created and immortal woman in the character of Blanche DuBois, the haggard and fragile southern beauty whose pathetic last grasp at happiness is cruelly destroyed. She represents fantasy for her many outrageous attempts to elude herself, and she likewise represents the Old South with only her manners and pretentions remaining after the foreclosure of her family's estate. The movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire shot Marlon Brando to fame as Stanley Kowalski, a sweat-shirted barbarian and crudely sensual brother-in-law who precipitated Blanche's tragedy. He symbolizes unrestrained desire with the recurring animal motif that follows him throughout the play. A third major character, Stella Kowalski, acts as mediator between her constantly conflicting husband and older sister. She magnifies the New South in her renounce of the Old pretentions by marrying a blue collar immigrant. Conflicts between these and other vividly colorful characters always in light of the cultural New Orleans backdrop provide a reader with a lasting impression and an awe for Williams's impeccable style and intense dialogue.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is another classic from my high school days that seems wasted on youth. How can a fifteen-year-old in prep school appreciate the desperation and human frailty of Blanche DuBois? Or the dichotomy inherent in Stanley Kowalski's passionate brutality?

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BLANCHE: What you are talking about is brutal desire--just--Desire!--the name of that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another...
STELLA: Haven't you ever ridden on that street-car?
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Many will have seen either the stage or film versions of Streetcar, but reading through Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play allows for the depression to really set in. Readers may even recognize qualities in friends and family members approximating those of alcoholism or domestic violence.

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BLANCHE: A hot bath and a long, cold drink always give me a brand new outlook on life!
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There are so many great dialogue exchanges here, outside of the classic "kindness of strangers" quote. I'll snip a few of my favorites.

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MITCH: You ought to lay off his liquor. He says you been lapping it up all summer like a wild-cat!
BLANCHE: What a fantastic statement!
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Format: Paperback
Deception seems to be one of the most salient themes. As Goleman writes, "We are piloted in part by an ingenious capacity to deceive ourselves, whereby we sink in obliviousness rather than face threatening facts."

Blanche buries her devious past with a new start in New Orleans and skirts questions with a swift wit in conversation. She waters down the pains and frustrations of the past with concealed drinking and shrouds her aging face from gentleman callers in a soft light. She delusionally and openly believes that a fictional Texas oil magnate will arrive to whisk her away from yet another prison she finds herself in.

Blanche maintains a very interesting relationship with Stanley, the bane of her existence in the French Quarter. While Stanley is ostensibly boorish and untamed, Blanche poorly masks these same latent characteristics in her own personality with a ladylike charm, frequent bathing, and heavy perfume. Her attacks on Stanley are actually projections, effectively assaults on the qualities she hates most about herself. Her outward disdain for her sister's husband is likely an aggressive reaction to what is better known as jealousy.

What's more, this behavior runs in the family (another universal Williams theme). Stella convinces herself that an abusive relationship is fit to raise a child in. And at one point, the sisters recall their mother's refusal to accept her own mortality and her imploration to her young daughters to participate in this shared collusion.

In the final scenes of the story, as Stella is giving birth to their son, Stanley finishes what he started, defeating Blanche completely in a territorial act of rape.
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