Stella Kowalski

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]

Stella Kowalski
First appearanceA Streetcar Named Desire
Created byTennessee Williams
Portrayed byKim Hunter
Renée Asherson
Patricia Conolly
Frances McDormand
Amy Madigan
Amy Ryan
Jasmine Clayton
Robin McLeavy
Ruth Wilson
Stacia Rice
Daphne Rubin-Vega
Elizabeth Futral
Helen Lovejoy
Janice Watson
Mary Mills
Beverly D'Angelo
Sigourney Weaver
Diane Lane
Vanessa Kirby
In-universe information
FamilyBlanche DuBois
SpouseStanley Kowalski
Childrenan unnamed son
RelativesBlanche DuBois (sister)
Allan Grey (brother-in-law; deceased)
NationalityFrench American

In the playEdit

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 just has returned from World War II, complete with decorations. Stella is portrayed as sensual and deferring 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. Stella refuses, however, 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 for promiscuity, 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 and takes their child (though it is ambiguous if she goes back to him).

In other mediaEdit

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 TV movie she was portrayed by Beverly D'Angelo, and in the 1995 TV movie, she was portrayed by Diane Lane.

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.


  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 linksEdit