Study Guide

A Streetcar Named Desire Scene Ten

By Tennessee Williams

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Scene Ten

  • It’s a few hours later on the same night. Blanche has been drinking pretty steadily since Mitch left. She has also dressed herself in an old satin gown and her rhinestone tiara, and started talking to herself.
  • Blanche pretends that she’s standing before a group of admirers. When she looks in the mirror, though, she doesn’t like what she sees and smashes it down on the dresser, breaking it. (Great. Her life already sucks and now she has seven years of bad luck on top of it.)
  • Stanley comes home from the hospital, a few drinks in him and carrying a few more beer bottles. He whistles when he sees Blanche all dolled-up.
  • Blanche asks about Stella, and he explains that the baby won’t come until the morning, so they sent him home to get some shut-eye.
  • She’s a bit nervous about the two of them being alone in the apartment all night.
  • Stanley asks why she’s all dressed up, and Blanche explains that she received a telegram from an old admirer of hers, Shep Huntleigh, inviting her to a cruise on the Caribbean. She went through her old clothes to see what she had that was suitable to wear aboard the ship.
  • Stanley plays along with her, though we can tell he doesn’t believe her story. He takes off his shirt and Blanche tells him to go close the curtains before he undresses any further.
  • Stanley stops at the shirt, though, and looks around for a bottle opened. He tells Blanche he once had a cousin who all he could do was open beer bottles with his teeth, until he broke his front ones off.
  • He shakes up the bottle and sprays it all over when he opens it. He’s clearly in a good mood on account of the baby, and asks Blanche to share a drink with him to bury the hatchet.
  • Blanche declines the drink, but this doesn’t dampen his spirits at all. Excitedly, he declares this is a great day for them both—she gets a millionaire, and he gets a son.
  • Then he runs to the bedroom and says he’s going to wear the red silk pajamas he had on his wedding night, to mark this red-letter day.
  • Blanche says the thing she’s most excited for is having some privacy again, once she’s off with this millionaire.
  • Stanley finds this odd—won’t the millionaire “interfere with [her] privacy?”
  • Blanche snootily explains that the man is a very refined gentleman interested in her company, not her body. Sometimes money makes people lonely, she says, and a woman like her, a refined woman of taste and culture and class and education, is exactly what he needs. Physical beauty may be fleeting, but she has beauty of the soul and mind, which will last forever.
  • As she continues, she insults Stanley and Mitch, calling them “swine” who aren’t cultured enough to appreciate her best qualities. She gave Mitch his walking papers earlier, she claims, for being so rude.
  • Then she delves back into fantasyland. Mitch came back later that night, she said, begging her forgiveness, declaring his love for her. She thanked him for his apology, but maintained that “deliberate cruelty is not forgivable” and sent him on his way with no hard feelings between them.
  • Stanley wants to know if this was before or after the telegram came from the Dallas millionaire. Then he more directly accuses her of making all this up, especially since he knows where Mitch has been for the last few hours, and it certainly wasn’t with Blanche begging forgiveness.
  • Then he starts really raging. He mocks Blanche for dressing up in “a worn-out Mardi Gras outfit”— who does she think she is, anyway, a queen? She might have fooled Mitch, he says, but she never fooled him. He’s been on to her from the start. Stanley concludes by laughing in her face with a violent “Ha—Ha!” He stalks off into the bedroom.
  • Blanche, left in the outer room, yells for him to stay away. She runs to the telephone and tells the operator to put her through to Western Union. She wants them to take down the message that she is in “desperate circumstances” and “caught in a trap.”
  • The door bangs open, so Blanche drops the phone. Stanley comes out from the bathroom, wearing his red silk pajamas.
  • Blanche wants him to move aside so she can get by him. “You’ve got plenty of room to walk by me,” says Stanley, clearly taking pleasure in her anxiety.
  • Blanche again tells him to move, but he insists that she can walk by him. Then he grins. “You think I’ll interfere with you?” he laughs.
  • Blanche says nothing, and Stanley adds, “Come to think of it—maybe you wouldn’t be bad to—interfere with.”
  • Uh-oh. This can’t be good.
  • Blanche gets defensive, ordering him to stand back and not come near her. “Something awful will happen!” she threatens, backing away.
  • Stanley moves toward her, and she continues to back away until they are both in the bedroom.
  • Blanche cries out that she’s in danger. As Stanley steps toward her, she breaks a bottle on the table and faces him with the broken end held out as a weapon. She threatens to twist it in his face.
  • “So you want some rough-house!” Stanley cries. He springs toward her, overturns the table, and catches her wrist before she can strike at him with the broken bottle.
  • “Tiger–tiger,” he calls her. “We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning!” he says.
  • Blanche moans, drops the bottle top, and falls to her knees. Stanley picks her up without a struggle and carries her over to the bed.
  • As the scene ends, “the hot trumpet and drums” are heard from the Four Deuces bar around the corner.

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