Balance Of Power Street Car Named Desire English Literature Essay

818 words - 4 pages

"The play illustrates both the power and powerlessness of women in 1940s America."
Discuss
Tennessee Williams portrays the contrast between powerful and powerless women within American society in 1940s throughout the play.
During the twentieth century, many events took place which pushed the boundaries of women as they fulfilled masculine jobs; World War One and Two made the roles of women much more powerful until the 1940s/50s where men resumed their dominant roles in American Society. A male dominated society is portrayed in Scene Three, where a woman's position is powerless, especially since Stanley stated "Nothing belongs on a poker table but cards, chips and whiskey". This implies the lack of control women would have in male orientated events, which may symbolise American society as a whole. Metaphorically, this may suggest that society is not prepared for a dominant female influence as the men during the poker game were unwilling to allow feminine objects to be placed on the table as it may influence their game, therefore in this sense, women are powerless. From the perspective of a man in modern day society, the influence of women on male oriented events is close to being non-existent as many women take part in games such as poker.
Female sexuality has been seen throughout the play by causing a paradox of vulnerability and empowerment. Blanche Dubois is an example of a powerful and powerless woman in 1940s America. Her purity, almost innocence is portrayed through her attire of "white suit and fluffy bodice", "white gloves" and "pearl". While this implies an angelic persona, this contrasts with her "delicate beauty" that "must avoid strong light". Metaphorically, this creates an image of a moth, a creature of beauty but when in contact with light, their true colour is shown. This represents Blanche's ability to deceive people, her ability to appear much younger and much more beautiful in poorly lit areas, which emphasises the power of deception that is portrayed by Williams during the play.
Yet, the vulnerability of a female's sexuality is highlighted throughout many scenes, especially in Scene Nine. A woman's sexuality was compressed in 1940s America, where they were outcasted for being slightly promiscuous or showing any interest in sex out of marriage, and in Blanche's case, she was expected to stay pure in order to stay true to her Southern Belle status. Mitch reinforces this alienation of women's sexuality as soon as he discovers the truth about Blanche's licentious past. The powerlessness of...

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