Blanche and Stella demonstrate two different types of femininity in the play, yet both find themselves dependent on men. Both Blanche and Stella define themselves in terms of the men in their lives, and they see relationships with men as the only avenue for happiness and fulfillment. Blanche is a fading Southern belle who clings to coquettish trappings, preferring “magic” and the night to reality and the light of day. She performs a delicate, innocent version of femininity because she believes that this makes her most attractive to men. Blanche insists that Stella should attempt to get away from the physically abusive Stanley, but her solution also involves dependence on men, as she proposes that they contact the Dallas millionaire Shep Huntleigh for financial assistance. Blanche’s tragic marriage in her youth has led her to seek emotional fulfillment through relationships with men, and men have taken advantage of her nervous, fragile state. Even though Blanche’s first marriage ended disastrously, she sees marriage as her only path. Blanche views Mitch as a refuge and a way to rejuvenate her shattered life. Although Blanche’s sexual exploits make the other characters perceive her as a shameful, fallen woman, these same characteristics are seen as conferring strength and power in Stanley.
Stella’s femininity is based not on illusions and tricks but on reality. She does not try to hide who she is nor hide from her present circumstances. Stella’s pregnancy asserts the real, physical, unmasked nature of her conception of herself as a woman. Stella chooses her physical love for and dependence on Stanley over Blanche’s schemes. Even though Stanley hits her, she is not in something she wants to get out of, as she explains to Blanche. Eunice demonstrates a similar, practical reliance on men, and she convinces Stella that she has made the right decision by staying with Stanley rather than believing Blanche’s story about the rape.
Femininity and Dependence ThemeTracker
Femininity and Dependence Quotes in A Streetcar Named Desire
Stella, oh, Stella, Stella! Stella for Star!
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!
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.
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.
Now let’s cut the re-bop!
After all, a woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion.
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.
I can’t stand a naked light bulb, any more than I can a rude remark or a vulgar action.
There are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark–that sort of make everything else seem–unimportant.
What you are talking about is brutal desire–just–Desire!–the name of that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter.
Please don’t get up. I’m only passing through.
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?