A Streetcar Named Desire (both text and film) isn’t split up into acts, but instead is a chronological sequence of episodes occurring between the months of May and September. Within these episodes beats a conflict and reconciliation rhythm, involving the win and lose of Stella’s love. Scene four begins with a vendor shouting something that sounds similar to Stanley’s ‘heaven splitting’ howl ‘STELLLAHHHHH! ‘, subtlety reminding us of the events of the night before. As you can recall, after hitting her, Stanley wins back Stella’s love by offering her ‘relentless’ sex.
By connecting the two scenes, Kazan suggests a continuation in character relationships. Therefore, at the start of Scene four, Stanley has possession of Stella’s love over Blanche. This is echoed by Stella’s response ‘You should stop taking it for granted that I am in something I want to get out of’ to Blanche when she proposes an ‘escape’ from Stanley’s apartment. Kazan fuels further evidence to this argument by having Stella staged in between Stanley and Blanche at the end of Scene four. Intentionally, the camera dwells on Stella’s expression as she shuns Blanche’s grasping plea, and lovingly embraces her ‘gaudy seed-bearer’ Stanley.Order now
Nonetheless, Stella affection for Stanley is only momentarily. Her sympathy and thus her love is passed onto Blanche, ‘You shouldn’t have done that, not on her birthday’. However Blanche ‘delicate’ sympathy votes doesn’t rival the ‘brute force’ of Stanley’s animal magnetism, ‘Stell, it’s gonna be all right after she goes… it’s gonna be sweet when we can make noise in the night the way that we used to’. This idea of conflict and reconciliation may be seen as a tug-and-war for Stella’s love, fought between Blanche and Stanley.
Although this conclusion may be derived from Tennessee William’s dialogue, Kazan plays on it heavy-handedly, refocusing the entire climax of the play around Stella’s choice between Stanley and Blanche, rather than Blanche’s downfall alone. Similar to Stella’s fluctuating love, this direction is only shortly followed, as ‘her look goes suddenly inward as if some interior voice has called her name’, insinuating the birth of her baby. This transports us into the third dimension, and more importantly Stella into the hospital.
Leaving Blanche vulnerably alone in the apartment to ripen for the rape scene, using the sweet ‘Varsouviana’ melody to intensify the suspense. Stella now has this added option of neglecting both Blanche and Stanley, to settle with her baby. Deviating from the original text, Kazan plays-out this scenario in the closing moments before the curtain drops. Stella looks on to her sister being carried away in a hearse like vehicle, engulfed by the activity on the streets as it makes its turn, only to find herself stranded in the middle of the frame.
Nervously she throws herself left and right, unsure where to go, and finally decides to take the baby and flee upstairs to Eunice’s, up to the safety of the ‘white columns’. She then promises that she’s never going back in there again’. Appropriately ending with a deafening mating call from Stanley ‘STELLLAHHHHH! ‘ Even though the censors at the time may of influenced Kazan’s ending to prove that rape is morally unjust and Stanley should be punished, the alternative ending creates a more rounded finish to the play. The closing cry ‘STELLLAHHHHH!
‘ may be interpreted as an echo of the cry in Scene 3. Thus creating the idea of Blanche leading journey, rather than a one-way downfall. Witnessed in the stage direction of Scene eleven ‘The atmosphere of the kitchen is the same raw, lurid one of the disastrous poker night’ emphasising the concept that Blanche’s time in New Orleans was merely a ‘transitory’ period, where she’s ‘only passing through’. Her presence was merely an instinctive reaction, where her ‘real’ conscience self was detached from reality, letting her survival mechanism do the work.
After all ‘It (the Streetcar) brought me here’, it wasn’t voluntary. Kazan presents this view from the very start of the film, where Blanche emerges from a cloud of train smoke, clearly disorientated to her surrounding. Her look is of a curious youth who has wondered into a time portal, and found themselves stumbling into a different era ‘incongruous to the setting’. From here ‘her future is mapped out for her’ By the ending scene, Blanche has personified an ‘artificial’ ‘Paper-doll’, replaceable as a broken ‘mirror’.
‘Her satin robe follows the sculptural lines of her body’, no longer representing the superior aristocratic south but a rotting tombstone swallowed-up by the ‘relentless’ vines of the ‘jungle’. Thus, there is no longer a need for her protective ‘nails’ (claws) to fend off predators. Specified specifically in the stage directions, William’s wanted ‘transparent walls’ and the ‘doors’ to be kept open all summer, blurring the distinction between the Kowalskis’ flat and the life in the city, the ‘jungle’.
Thus the audience is no longer just watching Blanche crumble, but actually experiencing it. Harrowing as it already is, Kazan takes a step further, and has Blanche portrayed as almost possessed being, leaving us horrified at what could of happened to ‘her victims’. Thankfully here ends Blanche’s torment from the nauseating intervals of the ‘Varsouviana’. Now she can quietly live in the shadows of the asylum, where she is ‘nobodies problem’, and her existence is denied.