A Street Car Named Desire is a play written by Tennessee Williams in 1947. The main characters in the play are Blanche Dubois, Stanley Kowalski and Harold Mitchell. Blanche is a woman of mixed fortunes. Her husband committed suicide and she has a problem with her sexuality. She is an alcoholic and has very poor drinking habits which make her disgrace to the society. She is afraid that age is catching up with her so fast that her beauty is vanishing. Stanley’s introduction in the play makes him look like a hero. His love for sex, hard work and fighting makes him have an animistic bodily energy. He sees himself as a community leveler. He, however, hates Blanche which maybe explains why he raped her. He hates Blanche so much that he digs into her past and spoils Blanche’s relationship with Mitch. At the end of the play, his humble character turns out to be harmful, unsophisticated and brutal. He is also a man of earthly passions since he loves gambling, bowling, alcohol abuse and sex. Converselt, Stanley is a man who lacks ideas (Williams 33).
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Mitchell, also known as Mitch, is man who lives with his aged mother who is almost dying. He is decent and the play depicts him as a gentleman although other characters see him as a mother’s boy. He gets attracted to Blanche with whom they have a sexual relationship. Blanche, however, refuses to sleep with Mitch because she has no physical affections for Blanche. Mitch gets angry when he finds out about Blanche’s past and he starts to disrespect her which leads to breaking iff relations with her. Mitch really cares for Blanche which is clear when he cries for her. He cries when he sees Blanche struggling to run away from the fate that she has been doomed to by Stanley (Williams 48).
What are the gender issues to discuss in this play? There are three gender issues in the play that I have to look at. First of all, we have Stanley’s masculinity. Secondly, we have Blanche’s downfall and, lastly, we have Blanche’s past. The play brings out the issue of gender which is very important in literature. Blanche represents the face of women who have lost hope and taken advantage of by men like Stanley. Stanley, on the other hand, represents men who inflict pain on women in the society, and who use their masculinity to oppress women. He also represents male chauvinists who go to the extent of bullying their wives (Williams 58).
What defines Stanley’s masculinity? These are Stanley’s physical vigor and brutality that define his masculinity. Stanley is a man who adores gambling, sex, and alcohol. His love for fighting makes him appear a brute in character. He beats his wife and takes advantage of Blanche’s drunken state and rapes her. William portrays Stanley as an archetype of masculinity. Williams tries to show how masculinity leads to gender conflict. It is through Stanley that we see how women are oppressed as they are considered the weaker sex. When Blanche is taken to asylum, this represents the aftermath that happens to women when men use their masculinity against them. When women are oppressed by men, it leads to pain and depression (Williams 78).
Who is responsible for Blanche’s downfall? Stella is responsible for the downfall of Blanche. Stella is Blanche’s sister. She, however, does not take into concern the issues raised by her sister against her husband Stanley. She does not consider Blanche’s accusations of rape against her husband. She also does not react against her husband when she realizes that her husband treats Blanche unfairly. She is, however, unconscious of her responsibility in Blanche’s downfall. This is because she lived a life of fear. She feared her husband and she could not confront her husband. She also sympathizes with Blanche when she gets mad. She cries for her as she holds her baby tightly. This, however, does not change the fact that she still disagrees with the fact that her sister was raped. Stella should have taken into consideration the issues her sister was facing. She would have offered some help and guidance to her sister. I also strongly believe that she should have come to the aid of her sister when she was treated unfairly by her husband. She should have considered and treated Blanche as a sister would (Williams 91).
Blanche tries to run away from her past. She has a tainted past that she tries to hide away from others. She lacks love and someone to appreciate her which explains her dark way of life. She feels unlucky and worthless which leads her to losing her mind when she is raped. She feels the need to hide her past because she wants to adapt to her new life with new people and move on. She is however, not honest on her past as seen when she starts to date Mitch. One event that shapes Blanche’s present situation is when she is raped by Stanley (Williams 90).
A Street Car Named Desire is a play that discusses different issues experienced by women in the society. It explores on the plight of women who belong to the low class. Moreover, it goes into male chauvinism and how men’s masculinity affects women. The major conflict in the play is between Blanche and her brother-in-law Stanley. Blanche, however, is predisposed to these conflicts. The main motifs in the play are drunkenness and light. The falling action in the play is seen when Blanche is led away to asylum.