Un Tramway Nommé Désir

Ever been trapped in a downward spiral of love, lust, hate and passion? Tennessee Williams understood that. Check out what Mary Wilds had to say about the famous playwright, and his most famous play:

“Williams was a pack rat when it came to his words; he seemingly kept everything he ever wrote. Any scholar or critic who pours through the Williams archives at the Harry Ranson Center at the University of Texas at Austin will find tantalizing examples of early Blanches. There is an unfinished play called The Spinning Song, in which a character named Blanche lives on a plantation named Belle Reve with her two children and a husband who works out of New Orleans. (The protagonist of The Lady of Larkspur Lotion, set in the New Orleans French Quarter, is considered by critics to be another early version for Blanche.)

According to archival papers, Williams was unsure how to end Blanche’s story. He considered having her depart for parts unknown, throw herself under a train (a la Anna Karenina) or even wake up happy, after a night of what was (in this version) consensual sex with Stanley.

In the final version, of course, Blanche DuBois goes to New Orleans “visit” with her sister, Stella, and Stella’s husband, the brutish Stanley Kowalski. Stanley and Blanche immediately clash; Blanche, whose husband committed suicide when she confronted him about his homosexuality, tries to lead Stanley’s friend Mitch into marriage. Stanley finds out the truth about Blanche, namely that she was fired from her teaching job for having an affair with a student; Mitch subsequently rejects Blanche. The final showdown between Stanley and Blanche leads to a brutal rape. The play ends as Blanche is being taken to an asylum; Stella will try to resume life with Stanley and their child.”

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