Stella Kowalski

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Stella Kowalski
First appearance A Streetcar Named Desire
Created by Tennessee Williams
Portrayed by Kim Hunter
Renée Asherson
Patricia Conolly
Frances McDormand
Amy Madigan
Amy Ryan
Jasmine Clayton
Robin McLeavy
Ruth Wilson
Stacia Rice
Daphne Rubin-Vega
Elizabeth Futral
Janice Watson
Mary Mills
Beverly D'Angelo
Sigourney Weaver
Diane Lane
Information
Gender Female
Family Blanche DuBois
Spouse(s) Stanley Kowalski
Children a unnamed daughter
Relatives Blanche DuBois (sister)
Allan Grey (brother-in-law; deceased)
Nationality French American

Stella Kowalski (née DuBois) is one of the main characters in Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire. She is the younger sister of central character Blanche DuBois and wife of Stanley Kowalski.[1][2]

In the play[edit]

The play begins when Blanche comes to visit Stella and Stanley in New Orleans after having lost their family home, Belle Reve, and her job as a teacher in Laurel, Mississippi. We gather that Stella was a Southern belle who left her home town to find work after her family fell on hard times. In New Orleans, she met her soon-to-be husband, Stanley Kowalski, who has just returned from World War II, complete with decorations. Stella is portrayed as sensual and declining to the will of her husband.

Stanley is prone to fits of rage in which he throws things and hits Stella. She often finds herself taking refuge at her neighbor Eunice’s home, only to return to Stanley when he cries for her to take him back. It is clear in the play that Stella is attracted to Stanley's passionate, animal nature, and that is why she stays with him. Williams neither condemns nor condones this sort of love; it is the way Stella yields to her marriage. Blanche, who has arrived for a "visit," is horrified by her sister's situation and tries to convince Stella to divorce Stanley, but Stella refuses, bound to Stanley by sexual attraction and her pregnancy with his child.

Stanley, who prides himself on luring Stella away from her privileged background, dislikes the influence Blanche has over his young wife. When Stanley discovers that Blanche has lost the family estate and been forced out of her home town, he gleefully tells Stella, who initially refuses to believe him.

The night Stella goes into labor, Stanley drunkenly happens upon Blanche and rapes her. This sends Blanche completely over the edge into a nervous breakdown. From what she says in the final scene, it is clear that Stella has chosen to believe that Blanche is lying about the rape. She acquiesces to his plan to send Blanche off to a mental institution. However, in the film adaptation, it is shown that Stella leaves him with their child (though it is ambiguous if she goes back to him).

In other media[edit]

Stella was portrayed by Kim Hunter in the Broadway production as well as the 1951 film adaptation. Hunter won an Academy Award for her performance.

In the 1984 and 1995 made for TV remakes, she was portrayed by Beverly D'Angelo and Diane Lane, respectively.

In the 1951 film adaptation of A Streetcar Named Desire, there is a suggestion that Stella may leave Stanley after she finds out about the rape.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brantley, Ben (December 3, 2009). "A Fragile Flower Rooted to the Earth". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  2. ^ Oklopčić, Biljana (Fall 2008). "Southern Bellehood (De)Constructed: A Case Study of Blanche DuBois". E-Journal of American Studies in Hungary. Department of American Studies, Institute of English and American Studies, University of Szeged. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]