(Question) “A Streetcar named Desire” is a play written by Tennessee Williams in which the central character is imperfect. Blache DunBois who comes to New Orleans to live off her sister’s charity after losing the family home through her promiscuous past. Williams make awareness of Blanche’s imperfectness and creates this through his use of characterization and conflicts of masculinity and social conflict.
THEME 1: SOCIAL CONFLICT
Sample Introduction: A clear clash between societal classes is depicted throughout the play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams. This clash between the upper class and working class is depicted heavily through Blanche, a snobby Southern Belle coming from a life of wealth in comparison to Stanley, a working class son of Polish immigrants. Tennessee Williams has embedded subtle and sometimes obvious cues regarding this clash between the classes in the setting too. Notably, such conflict Is resonated through the play’s stage directions and other dramatic techniques.
· The conflict becomes evident during the first scene when we first meet Blanche and Stanley.
“I.. l let the place go? Where were you! In bed with your Polack!” – Scene 1
Blanche uses her outdated idea of ‘class’ in order to establish her superiority over Stanley. Blanche is appalled to find that her sister Stella is married to a man with very different social rank and race.
“She is dainty dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat…” – Scene 1
This depicts Blanche as an upper class woman. Her clothing description conveys that she has a preference for looking high class, and likes to look elegant in any situation.
“Roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes… carries his bowling jacket.” – Scene 1
Depicts Stanley as from the lower class. These ideas help reinforce the conflict between the Old South (Upper Class) and the New South (Lower Class)
The juxtaposition of “dainty dressed in a white suit” and “roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes” demonstrates the differences in social class rankings. Blanche is seen to be a sophisticated upper class woman whereas Stanley is a working class son of Polish Immigrants.
“A different species”
Stella used animal imagery to heighten the separation between Blanche and Stanley’s social class. Even though she is willing to mingle, she understands that Blanche will struggle.
THEME 2: MASCULINITY
Masculinity, particular in the 1940s in New Orleans, encompassed the notion that a man was strong. Tennessee Williams employs the idea that in the order for a man to be considered masculine he must display certain aggressive and often negative qualities. Physical control, dominance and violence are key traits accompanying the play’s antagonist and one of its main male...