Laura Robertson Ms. Albertson English IV Honors 17 January 2012 A Streetcar Named Desire: Stanley Kowalski In the play A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, an insensitive and cruel character named Stanley Kowalski is depicted. His juxtaposition to Stella Kowalski, his mild mannered and sensitive wife, accentuates his character flaws making them even more prominent and dramatic throughout the play.
Through Stanley’s conflicts with Blanche DuBois and his rapist-like sexual advances, Stanley becomes the perfect villainous character, enabling the reader to sympathize with Stella and Blanche. With the violent scenes and the highly sexual content, Stanley is the center of all climactic events in A Streetcar Named Desire. Stanley’s aggressive nature even goes so far as domestic violence, where he savagely beats Stella and verbally abuses her on a regular basis. This is evident in many scenes. Just the presence of Stanley is enough to create fear and uneasiness for the people that surround him.
Throughout the play A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams depicts Stanley Kowalski as a villain-like character with a mean streak and vicious personality which creates an uneasy environment due to his pugnacious lifestyle and insensitive demeanor. “The stage directions say that sex is the center of Stanley’s life. Being sexually attractive assures Stanley’s delusional rapist mind that his sexual advances are being welcomed” (Nagel 10). Stanley’s delusional mind makes him believe that his sexual brutality is respected and is a naturally accepted thing.
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Throughout the play, Stanley’s character is followed by sexual connotations and innuendos. A very vivid illustration of this starts at the very beginning of the play where “The vigorous physicality and the echo of his primitive nature, combined with the coarse sexual innuendo of his package of meat suggest passion close to the surface and introduce the audience to Stanley’s inner character” (Nagel 10). The bringing of the package of meat to Stella and how Stanley carelessly throws the heavy package to her even though she insists on not being able to catch it shows the brutal nature of his sexuality.
The way the package is described as dripping with blood is used to over accentuate the graphic nature of the ordeal, foreshadowing sexual happenings that will occur later in the play. Another example of the graphic nature of Stanley’s sexual brutality is portrayed in the poker game in scene three. After Stella had fled to Eunice’s house and Stanley sorrowfully called to her the play states that Stella came down to him and they made animal noises together. This shows the animalistic behavior of Stanley and the unhealthy relationship between Stella and Stanley. Stanley is described as highly sexed in the play and when Stanley and Stella are together, they create a bond that Blanche can’t ever break” (Nagel 10). Though try as she might, Blanche’s attempts to keep Stella from Stanley are ultimately thwarted due to Stanley and Stella’s unhealthy bond with one another. In addition to Stanley’s savage and animalistic sexual advances his verbal abuse towards both Stella and Blanche even further assert him as a villainous character from the start to the finish of the play. Stanley is especially cruel to Blanche who he had an antagonistic feeling towards from the moment he met her.
One of the first illustrations of Stanley’s harsh words is represented with his first argument with Blanche. “This first confrontation is over the loss of Belle Reve. Stanley’s composure vanishes and his vision becomes so distorted that he mistakes her cheap jewelry as ropes of pearls” (Nagel 10). When this confrontation occurs and Stanley’s composure becomes compromised when he realizes that Blanche had been telling the truth about losing the estate to the mortgage instead of selling it for profit and lashes out to compromise his mistake.
Stanley could not stand the thought of being proved wrong by a woman like Blanche so he explodes into a fit of rage to cover up the pride he had lost in being wrong about Blanche. A particularly tense birthday dinner of Blanche leads to yet another episode of Stanley’s dangerous and violent fits of rage. After Stella scolded Stanley for eating like an animal, with his fingers, he erupts into a disastrous rage. “That’s how I’ll clear the table! (Seizes her arm) Don’t ever talk that way to me that way! ‘Pig-Polack-Disgusting-Vulgar-Greasy! ’—Them kind of words have been on your tongue and your sister’s too much around here!
What do you think you are? A pair of queens? Remember what Huey Long said—‘Every man is a king! ’ and I am the king around here, so don’t you forget it” (Williams 107)! This outburst alone highlights the cruel and misogynistic ways of Stanley and further paints him in a negative and harsh light. Throughout the play A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams depicts Stanley Kowalski as a villain-like character with a mean streak and vicious personality which creates an uneasy environment due to his pugnacious lifestyle and insensitive demeanor.
His juxtaposition to Stella Kowalski, his mild mannered and sensitive wife, accentuates his character flaws making them even more prominent and dramatic throughout the play. Through Stanley’s conflicts with Blanche DuBois and his rapist-like sexual advances, Stanley becomes the perfect villainous character, enabling the reader to sympathize with Stella and Blanche. Works Cited Nagel, James. “Critical Essays on Tennessee Williams. ” Ed. Robert A. Martin. First Edition. New York, New York: G. K. Halland Co. , 1997 Williams, Tennessee. “A Streetcar Named Desire. ” New York, New York: New American Library, 1951. Pages 13-142.
Analysis on Blanche DuBois From A Streetcar Named Desire
In Tennesse Williams' play, "A Streetcar Named Desire" the readers are introduced to a character named Blanche DuBois. In the plot, Blanche is Stella's younger sister who has come to visit Stella and her husband Stanley in New Orleans. After their first meeting Stanley develops a strong dislike for Blanche and everything associated with her. Among the things Stanley dislikes about Blanche are her "spoiled-girl" manners and her indirect and quizzical way of conversing. Stanley also believes that Blanche has conned him and his wife out of the family mansion.
In his opinion, she is a good-for-nothing "leech" that has attached itself to his household, and is just living off him. Blanche's lifelong habit of avoiding unpleasant realities leads to her breakdown as seen in her irrational response to death, her dependency, and her inability to defend herself from Stanley's attacks. Blanche"s situation with her husband is the key to her later behavior. She married rather early at the age of sixteen to whom a boy she believed was a perfect gentleman. He was sensitive, understanding, and civilized much like herself coming from an aristocratic background.
She was truly in love with Allen whom she considered perfect in every way. Unfortunately for her he was a homosexual. As she caught him one evening in their house with an older man, she said nothing, permitting her disbelief to build up inside her. Sometime later that evening, while the two of them were dancing, she told him what she had seen and how he disgusted her. Immediately, he ran off the dance floor and shot himself, with the gunshot forever staying in Blanche"s mind. After that day, Blanche believed that she was really at fault for his suicide.
She became promiscuous, seeking a substitute men (especially young boys), for her dead husband, thinking that she failed him sexually. Gradually her reputation as a whore built up and everyone in her home town knew about her. Even for military personnel at the near-by army base, Blanche's house became out-of-bounds. Promiscuity though wasn't the only problem she had. Many of the aged family members died and the funeral costs had to be covered by Blanche's modest salary. The deaths were long, disparaging and horrible on someone like Blanche.
She was forced to mortgage the mansion, and soon the bank repossessed it. At school, where Blanche taught English, she was dismissed because of an incident she had with a seventeen-year-old student that reminded her of her late husband. Even the management of the hotel Blanche stayed in during her final days in Laurel, asked her to leave because of the all the different men that had been seeing there. All of this, cumulatively, weakened Blanche, turned her into an alcoholic, and lowered her mental stability bit-by-bit.
Her husband's death affects her greatly and determines her behavior from then on. Having lost Allan, who meant so much to her, she is blinded by the light and from then on never lights anything stronger than a dim candle. This behavior is evident when she first comes to Stella's and puts a paper lantern over the light bulb. Towards the end, when the doctor comes for Blanche and she says she forgot something, Stanley hands her her paper lantern. Even Mitch notices that she cannot stand the pure light, and therefore refuses to go out with him during the daytime or to well lit places.
Blanche herself says "I can't stand a naked light bulb any more than ... ". A hate for bright light isn't the only affect on Blanche after Allan's death - she needs to fill her empty heart, and so she turns to a lifestyle of one-night-stands with strangers. She tries to comfort herself from not being able to satisfy Allan, and so Blanche makes an effort to satisfy strangers, thinking that they need her and that she can't fail them like she failed Allan. At the same time she turns to alcohol to avoid the brutality of death.
The alcohol seems to ease her through the memories of the night of Allan's death. Overtime the memory comes back to her, the musical tune from the incident doesn't end in her mind until she has something alcoholic to drink. All of these irrational responses to death seem to signify how Blanche's mind is unstable, and yet she tries to still be the educated, well-mannered, and attractive person that Mitch first sees her as. She tries to not let the horridness come out on top of her image, wanting in an illusive and magical world instead.
The life she desires though is not what she has and ends up with. Blanche is very dependent coming to Stella from Belle Reve with less than a dollar in change. Having been fired at school, she resorts to prostitution for finances, and even that does not suffice her. She has no choice but to come and live with her sister; Blanche is homeless, out of money, and cannot get a job due to her reputation in Laurel. Already in New Orleans, once she meets Stanley, Blanche is driven to get out of the house.
She needs get away from Stanley for she feels that a Kowalski and a DuBois cannot coexist in the same household. Her only resort to get out, though, is Mitch. She then realizes how much she needs Mitch. When asked by Stella, Whether Blanche wants Mitch, Blanche answers "I want to rest... breathe quietly again! Yes-I want Mitch... if it happens... I can leave here and not be anyone's problem... ". This demonstrates how dependent she is on Mitch, and consequently Blanche tries to get him to marry her. There is though Stanley who stands between her and Mitch.
Stanley is a realist and cannot stand the elusive "dame Blanche", eventually destroying her along with her illusions. Blanche cannot withstand his attacks. Before her, Stanley's household was exactly how he wanted it to be. When Blanche came around and drunk his liquor, bathed in his bathtub, and posed a threat to his marriage, he acted like a primitive animal that he was, going by the principle of "the survival of the fittest". Blanche already weakened by her torturous past did not have much of a chance against him.
From their first meeting when he realized she lied to him about drinking his liquor, he despised her. He attacked her fantasies about the rich boyfriend at a time when she was most emotionally unstable. He had fact over her word and forced her to convince herself that she did not part with Mitch in a friendly manner. Further, he went on asking her for the physical telegram to convince him that she did receive it. When Blanche was unable to provide it, he completely destroyed her fantasies, telling her how she was the worthless Queen of the Nile sitting, on her throne and swilling down his liquor.
This wild rebuttal by Stanley she could not possibly take, just as she could not face a naked light bulb. Further when Stanley went on to rape her, he completely diminished her mental stability. It was not the actual rape that represents the causes for her following madness, but the fact that she was raped by a man who represented everything unacceptable to her. She couldn't handle being so closely exposed to something that she has averted and diluted all of her life - reality, realism, and rape by a man who knew her, destroyed her, and in the end made her something of his.
She could not possibly effectively refute against him in front of Stella. Blanche's past and present actions & behavior, in the end, even in Stella's eyes depicted her as an insane person. All of Blanche's troubles with Stanley that in the end left her in a mental institution could have been avoided by her. Stanley and she would have gotten along better if she would have been frank with him during their first encounter. Blanche made a grave mistake by trying to act like a lady, or trying to be what she thought a lady ought to be.
Stanley, being as primitive as he was, would have liked her better if she was honest with him about drinking his liquor. Blanche always felt she could give herself to strangers, and so she did try to flirt with Stanley at first. After all like she said to Stella "Honey, would I be here if the man weren't married? ", Stanley did catch her eyes at first. But being brutally raped by him in the end destroyed her because he was not a starnger, he knew her, he made her face reality, and in a way he exposed her to the bright luminous light she could not stand all her life.
Blanche Dubois and Tom Wingfield’s Struggle Between Fantasy and Reality
The two characters, Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire and Tom Wingfield of The Glass Menagerie, both share an intense struggle between fantasy and reality in their lives causing dependency upon alcohol. Blanch DuBois approaches as a high class Southern Belle who depends upon others to care for her, but in reality she thrives on her self-proclaimed royalty.
Meanwhile, Tom Wingfield is a pessimistic character who deprives his life working at a shoe factory for his mother and sister while living in the shadows of his father. Both these characters also develop a dependency upon alcohol to overcome conflicts they are faced with. Blanche’s struggle occurs after losing all she had back home in Belle Reve except her trunk of clothes and props, but is exposed to the hash reality of the real world where she cannot cope and must depend on others.
One example, such as Stanley Kowalski’s friend, Mitch, whom she instantly wants to marry to be saved from her current degrading lifestyle. “Ms. DuBois says that she is on vacation at the Kowalski’s, but in fact has lost the family mansion, Belle Reve, and her teaching position due to her sexual indiscretions, the last one with a 17-year-old boy while earning a reputation for sleeping with men indiscriminately, in the meantime pretending to be a Southern bell (Magill pars. 1-2). Blanche is so caught up in her fantasy world that she even had relations with the delivery boy, as well, so she may mask her age with youth and to have control of another. Tom finds himself struggling to fulfill his dreams of writing poetry. This is due to his working at the local shoe factory so he can support his family. “Mr. Wingfield is desperately unhappy in his warehouse job, and finds himself standing on the fire-escape to the apartment in his hopes of one day fleeing to pursue his dreams as his father did (Bloom pars. 15-16). Tom is always speaking of how he is held down from his hopes, goals, dreams, and ambitions stuck in the shoe factory making a lousy salary for his family, made up of a sick sister and delirious mother. Tom cannot accept the reality that surrounds him and is always contemplating about his dream life, which he is kept from achieving. Blanche, like Tom, abuses alcohol to escape her struggles between fantasy and reality. Blanche is noticeably an abuser of alcohol as she is found constantly sipping away at liquor to forget her past, which her conscience knows is guilty.
Tom is said to be at “the movies,” meanwhile he is actually out at the bars all hours of the night. This is Tom’s way of temporarily escaping his home and forgetting his duties that trap and prevent him from accomplishing his goals in life. Neither character was in need of alcohol, but abused it to an intolerable level, where they consumed it when facing rough times or troubling memories that followed. Also, in both plays these two characters hid the fact that they ever even consumed liquor, while they were always drinking in complete denial.
The two characters, Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire and Tom Wingfield of The Glass Menagerie, both share an intense struggle between fantasy and reality in their lives causing dependency upon alcohol. Blanche’s inability to cope with the real world alone makes her a weak character. She cannot live independently and has lost all that once made her life, back in Belle Reve, due to her confused relationship with a student of hers. Tom, on the contrary, has a strong character that is chipped away at over time due to the tormenting lifestyle he must live to support his family. After time this strong foundation of character diminishes as Tom wants to flee his stationary life back at home. 1988.
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