A Streetcar Named Desire

Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the New Directions edition of A Streetcar Named Desire published in 2004.
Scene 1 Quotes

They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and transfer to one called Cemeteries, and ride six blocks and get off at—Elysian Fields!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Streetcar
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Blanche DuBois has just arrived in New Orleans, where her sister, Stella, lives with her husband, Stan Kowalski. The neighborhood she arrives in is seedy but also exciting, with heated, sexual tension in the air… (200 more words in this explanation)

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Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stella Kowalski
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

When Blanche is first reunited with her sister, Stella, she cries out Stella’s name over and over, with a warmth that borders on hysteria. Blanche’s greeting shows her love for her sister, but also demonstrates… (181 more words in this explanation)

Sit there and stare at me, thinking I let the place go? I let the place go? Where were you! In bed with your–Polack!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stanley Kowalski, Stella Kowalski
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

Blanche lashes out against Stella for choosing to leave the family estate of Belle Reve for a lower-class lifestyle. From Blanche’s perspective, Stella appears to have rejected the family’s aristocratic background in favor of a… (170 more words in this explanation)

Since earliest manhood the center of [Stanley’s] life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it, not with weak indulgence, dependently, but with the power and pride of a richly feathered male bird among hens.

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

When Stanley enters the kitchen, Stanley and Blanche are in the same physical space for the first time in the play, and the stage directions commemorate this occasion by describing not only Stanley’s literal presence… (171 more words in this explanation)

Scene 2 Quotes

I never met a woman that didn’t know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and some of them give themselves credit for more than they’ve got.

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bathing
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

Blanche attempts to flirt with Stanley by fishing for compliments about her looks, but Stanley cuts straight through her coy banter. Blanche has just come out of the bath, and she wants to believe that… (184 more words in this explanation)

Now let’s cut the re-bop!

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

Although Stanley lets Blanche talk coquettishly and indirectly with him for a little while, eventually he gets irritated with her coyness and demands that they speak plainly. At first, Blanche becomes even more flirtatious, since… (137 more words in this explanation)

After all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

When Blanche tells Stanley that illusion is fifty percent of a woman’s charm, she is, ironically, speaking to him directly for the first time. Stanley has declared his impatience with Blanche’s coy maneuvers and indirect… (165 more words in this explanation)

Oh, I guess he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume, but maybe he’s what we need to mix with our blood now that we’ve lost Belle Reve.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stanley Kowalski
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

When Stella returns home, Blanche tells her that she and Stanley have discussed the matter of Belle Reve and their family’s finances, and that they’ve settled things out. To Stella, Blanche describes her conversation with… (137 more words in this explanation)

Red-hot!

Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

When Blanche and Stella are sitting on the steps together, and Blanche explains her version of the discussion between Stanley and herself, a tamale vendor yells “Red-hot!” in the background. Blanche tells Stella that she… (149 more words in this explanation)

Scene 3 Quotes

The kitchen now suggests that sort of lurid nocturnal brilliance, the raw colors of childhood’s spectrum.

Related Symbols: Shadows
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:

On the one hand, the kitchen shows the vibrant nature of New Orleans life, which glitters in the dark with fun and games. On the other hand, the harsh lights also seem hellish, presentinf no… (168 more words in this explanation)

I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

Blanche puts up a paper lantern to cover the harsh light of the naked light bulb, both because she wants to soften the physical light so that she appears more beautiful, and also because she… (158 more words in this explanation)

STELL-LAHHHHH!

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker), Stella Kowalski
Related Symbols: Alcohol and Drunkenness
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

Stanley, in a drunken rage, has just hit Stella, and so she has gone to the upstairs neighbor’s apartment for a safe haven. When Stanley realizes that Stella is gone, he becomes extremely mournful. All… (177 more words in this explanation)

Scene 4 Quotes

There are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark–that sort of make everything else seem–unimportant.

Related Characters: Stella Kowalski (speaker), Stanley Kowalski
Related Symbols: Shadows
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

After Stanley hits Stella, Blanche insists that Stanley is too dangerous, especially because Stella is pregnant, and that Stella must leave Stanley. However, even though Stella recognizes that Stanley’s aggression is wrong, she is also… (148 more words in this explanation)

What you are talking about is brutal desire–just–Desire!–the name of that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stella Kowalski
Related Symbols: The Streetcar
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

The streetcar named Desire that provides this play with its title is both the name of a streetcar in New Orleans and a metaphor for the powerful and often dangerous emotion that propels the characters… (149 more words in this explanation)

Don’t–don’t hang back with the brutes!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stanley Kowalski, Stella Kowalski
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

Blanche tells Stella that Stanley is an uncivilized animal, and that when Stella associates herself with him, she is turning her back on the world of culture and art that they came from. Yet Blanche’s… (130 more words in this explanation)

Scene 5 Quotes

Young man! Young, young, young man! Has anyone ever told you that you look like a young Prince out of the Arabian Nights?

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: Paper Lantern and Paper Moon
Page Number: 99
Explanation and Analysis:

Blanche flirts with the boy who comes to collect money for subscriptions to the newspaper, which is called the "Evening Star." By calling him a prince from the Arabian Nights, Blanche sweeps the boy into… (235 more words in this explanation)

Scene 6 Quotes

Sometimes–there’s God–so quickly!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

Despite acting as though she is laying the whole truth bare to Mitch, Blanche is still pretending to be innocent when she flirts with him. Blanche divulges the story of her failed marriage, but she… (138 more words in this explanation)

Scene 7 Quotes

It’s only a paper moon, Just as phony as it can be–But it wouldn’t be make-believe If you believed in me!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

“It’s Only a Paper Moon” is a jazz standard written in 1933 that became popular in the 1940s, with versions sung by Ella Fitzgerald and the Nat King Cole Trio. In the context of the… (160 more words in this explanation)

Scene 9 Quotes

I told you already I don’t want none of his liquor and I mean it. You ought to lay off his liquor. He says you’ve been lapping it up all summer like a wild-cat!

Related Characters: Harold Mitchell (Mitch) (speaker), Blanche DuBois, Stanley Kowalski
Related Symbols: Alcohol and Drunkenness
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the play, metaphors of beasts and animality are used throughout the play to refer to physical lust and raw sexuality. Blanche calls Stanley a “brute” and a “beast.” The stage directions refer to Stanley… (119 more words in this explanation)

I don’t want realism. I want magic!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: Paper Lantern and Paper Moon
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

When Mitch rips the paper lantern off the lightbulb, Blanche cries out against this action. She pretends to be making a melodramatic joke in the moment, but her outcry portrays Blanche’s fear of reality and… (142 more words in this explanation)

Scene 10 Quotes

Tiger–tiger! Drop the bottle-top! Drop it! We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning!

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker), Blanche DuBois
Related Symbols: Alcohol and Drunkenness
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

Stanley aggressively attacks Blanche, insisting that their carnal lusts have both led them to sleep with each other. Stanley calls Blanche a “tiger,” emphasizing the raw, animal power of desire present in both people. Stanley… (194 more words in this explanation)

Scene 11 Quotes

Please don’t get up. I’m only passing through.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Related Symbols: Varsouviana Polka
Page Number: 173
Explanation and Analysis:

When Blanche tells the men playing poker in the kitchen to remain seated when she walks through, she reveals her assumption that since she is such a dignified lady, and since they are all refined… (193 more words in this explanation)

You left nothing here but spilt talcum and old empty perfume bottles–unless it’s the paper lantern you want to take with you. You want the lantern?

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker), Blanche DuBois
Related Symbols: Paper Lantern and Paper Moon
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

Blanche attempts to stall her trip to the asylum, which signifies her forced acceptance of reality, by desperately pretending that she has left items behind. Stanley yells at her roughly, asking if she wants the… (160 more words in this explanation)

Whoever you are—I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Doctor
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

Blanche’s final line in the play demonstrates that she has fully descended into madness. Stanley and Stella have realized that Blanche has lost her grip on reality, and they commit her to a mental institution… (210 more words in this explanation)

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