A Streetcar Named Desire, By Tennessee Williams

1172 words - 5 pages

Street Car Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947, has been called the best play ever written by an American. The geological setting of the play, New Orleans, creates a remarkably blended mood of decadence, nostalgia, and sensuality. The plot of the play comes about through the conflict between a man and his sister-in-law who comes to live at his house with he and his wife. Stanley Kowalski immediately captures the attention of the audience through Williams' excellent portrayal of the intensely strong willed character.

The portrayal of Stanley Kowalski plays a major role in the success of the play. Williams forms Stanley into an extremely masculine character who will always have his way or no way at all and makes his opinions very clear to those around him. This profound masculinity places Stanley in direct opposition to Blanche DuBois. "The high-minded yet oddly fragile Blanche takes an immediate dislike to the loutish, working-class Stanley, while Stanley immediately recognizes Blanche for what she has become: a woman who finds consolation in indiscriminate sex and alcohol." (Authors & Artists, 165). This clashing forms the conflict which eventually roots itself deeply into the plot of the play. Stanley represents the symbol of the New South. Stanley's aggressiveness leads to his ease in taking total control over a situation. This characteristic also allows Stanley to completely secure the respect of all the men who associate with him, however, his aggression also shines a light upon a very destructive side of his character. In many ways, Stanley's brutality leads to the major conflict between Blanche and himself. "And look at yourself! Take a look at that worn out Mardi Gras outfit, rented for fifty cents from some rag picker! And with that crazy crown on! What queen do you think you are?" (Williams, 127). Stanley becomes very blunt in his contempt and aggression towards Blanche. Another view into the excessive aggression of Stanley appears in the third scene. In this scene, Williams provides a look at a very negative side of Stanley. Stanley physically assaults his wife, Stella, after she returns to the house during his poker game. "How anyone could find Stella Kowalski's comatose endurance of Stanley healthy or whole-hearted is, indeed, a subject for wonder." (Drama Criticism, 401). Stanley also shows his vigorous side through his appearance as the ruler of the household. "He views Blanche's presence as a threat to his position of power and control in his home." (Encyclopedia of Literary Characters, 1859). Blanche appears as a character who may possibly jeopardize his position of authority in the household. Williams casts this image of excessive aggressiveness and cruelty upon Stanley not only to form the primary conflict which fully entangles itself in the plot of the play but also to force the reader to look at Stanley's character from different perspectives. In one sense, the audience sees...

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