Life has been cruel and brutal to all of the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. All except Stanley Kowalski, that is, who has instead been cruel to those in life. He was relentlessly brutal to Blanche during her stay at Elysian Fields and a violent husband to Stella. Stanley was also dominating towards all of his friends, including Mitch. Stanley knew their weaknesses and used them to his advantage.
Stanley is a very 'manly' man. He knows what is his and has to be in control of it. "... I am the king around here, so don't forget it!" (195) Stanley enjoys all of his belongings; his apartment, his radio, everything. He knows all about the Napoleonic code because it involves what is his. By knowing this small piece of information Stanley feels a little more in control of what belongs to Stella, not that she owns very much. When Stanley hears about the loss of Belle Reve he feels cheated of what is his, which explain why he gets so worked up over it.
Stanley knows he is a good looking man and uses Stella's lust for him to control her. This is why when Stanley is trying to persuade Stella, he will touch her to remind her of how it feels to be with him. Due to Stanley's manliness he doesn't take kindly to women telling him what to do. This becomes clear almost straight away in scene two when Stella tells Stanley to come out side with her. He refuses with "Since when do you give me orders?" (135) He has little respect for women. To him they are only good for cooking, cleaning and pleasing him at his will. A good example of this is at the poker party when [Stanley gives aloud whack of his hand on Stella's thigh.] (145) He will take one look at a woman and sum her up with a sexual classification.
Stanley is often described as "ape like" (163) and "on the primitive side." (137)
He has many animal and caveman like qualities about him. In the very first scene it is shown when Stanley comes along and heaves the red stained package of meat at Stella. When he gets angry Stanley will throw and break things. He does this numerous times throughout the play such as when he tosses the radio out the window in scene three and when he smashes the plates in scene eight. Stanley grunts and acts like an animal and has nothing refined about him. He is from a polish background and is of lower class. Stanley has no tact at all. He shows this consistently as he makes all sorts of classless remarks, such as "Haven't fallen in, have you?" (130) Stanley doesn't realise just how bad his mannerisms are but Blanche sees it all too plainly.
Blanche DuBois is a fading southern belle. She is very insecure about her looks. Her vanity is her main weakness and she is constantly "fishing for a compliment." (136) Blanche refuses to be seen in full light because it shows her age, diminishing beauty and makes her feel exposed. "... Turn that over-light...