Blanche Dubois and Stella Kowalski, the main female characters of A Streetcar Named Desire, seem throughout the play to be at two opposite ends of the spectrum in their approach to life and in dealing with the people around them, Blanche appearing to be romantic and refined and Stella appearing to be straightforward and blue-collar, much like her husband Stanley, but while they seem different on the surface, they are sisters who both possess the same passionate drive, being different only in personality.
Stella left Belle Reve, their childhood home, a few years before the play opens and married Stanley Kowalski, a brutish and dominating prize rooster who is a travelling salesman for a machine-parts company. His sexual drive appeals to her and her submissive nature enables her to survive a marriage that would be unimaginable to someone like her sister Blanche, who interacts with people in the context of the old code of Southern chivalry, which involves masking ones true feelings and desires with verbage and games. Stella seems to be more comfortable with the type of straightforward and often insensitive method of communication of a life with Stanley because it leaves no doubt as to what his intentions are, and when Blanche is dropped in their world, its equilibrium is taken away and the clash of Stella and Blanche's ways of dealing with Stanley cause most of the critical events of the play.
Just about every external quality of Stella and Blanche clash, from their last names to the kinds of clothes they wear. Romantic and feminine things are associated with Blanche, while practical and blue-collar things are associated with Stella. Blanche has just come from Belle Reve, an antique Southern mansion, to Elysian Fields, the ironic name of the street where Stella lives with Stanley in a two-bedroom, run-down neighborhood. Blanche mentions her French hugenot ancestry which contrasts with the common, Polish immigrant lineage that Stella has married into.