Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire displays how imperfect a marriage can be, where the husband is mentally controlling his wife's actions and views. In Streetcar, Stella helplessly abides by her husband's wishes and is too blinded to see his wrongdoings and toxicity.
Marriage in A Streetcar Named Desire: Stella
Hanna H. and Celine N.
The play opens with this dynamic interaction between the couple. The chemistry is evident and the couple is clearly passionate about one another. All she's known is Stanley's "love" for her in his manipulative fashion. She is indirectly allowing him to be in her head constantly.
[bellowing] Hey there! Stella, Baby! (Scene 1)
Blanche arrives and sees Stella's intense attachment to her husband. The marriage is founded on Stanley's control over Stella and her putting no effort to stop this control.
I can hardly stand it when he is away for a night… […] When he’s away for a week I nearly go wild! […] And when he comes back I cry on his lap like a baby… (Scene 1)
Blanche's arrival began to challenge the marriage as she began to see the issues with it such as the toxic passion and Stanley's superiority and control. Despite efforts to warn Stella about Stanley and his actions, Stella is in too deep and is oblivious to the many problems.
Ho-ho! There’s nothing to be scared of. They’re crazy about each other. (Scene 3)
Despite events that should've made Stella realize how cruel her husband can be, she maintained glued to his side and lured by his charm. Even though her sister told her she was raped, Stella chose to not believe the story so that she can continue her life with her husband, showing the manipulation persists and remains dominant.
"I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley." (Scene 11)
Both these moments in the play shows how toxic the marriage is and how it plays a toll on Stella. She blissfully ignorant of how confined Stanley has made her lifestyle and sides with him despite them. She neglects the idea of saving herself because being his wife is all she's known even though independence, in this case, would be better. These instances show the theme of male dominance on a woman, making her lose any freedom of thought she might possess. Stanley being in control became natural to her, and this theme is observed in many marriages in society. Husbands utilize a woman's care and sensitivity negatively and manipulate them through their actions and persuasive words of love.