Streetcar Named Desire

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a very socially challenging play in the way in
which Tennessee Williams depicts how brutal and deceiving human nature can be.

He takes the point of view that no matter how structured or ‘civilized’ society
is all people will rely on their natural animal instincts, such as dominance and
deception, to get themselves out of trouble at some stage in life, even if they
don’t realize it. William’s has created three main characters of society, they
are, Blanche Dubiou, Stella and Stanley Kowalski. Each of these characters is
equally as civilized as one another, yet their acts of savagery are all on
different levels. Throughout the play Williams symbolically relates these three
characters to animals, ‘savages,’ by the use of their attitudes, beliefs,
appearances and desires. The most obvious example of a savage in the play is
Stanley Kowalski. He is a large well-toned, territorial male with simple beliefs
and a short temper. He does not have many manners and does not care what people
think of him. He seems very simple but there I much more to him. He feels
threatened by Blanche because she moves in on his territory and wants Stella to
leave him. At first, Stanley acts physically dominant over both Blanche and
Stella; by rifling through Blanches possessions (act 1 scene 3 pg.124 ), quoting
to Stella and Blanche that every man is a king (act scene 8 pg.197-198 ),
throwing the radio out the window in a drunken frenzy and actually striking his
pregnant wife (Stella) (act 1 scene 3 pg. 152-155). However, towards the end of
the play, Stanley realizes his power over Blanche and he acts a lot wiser, but
still with the same intentions. He dresses smarter, talks to her nicely, but
mockingly, and finally rapes her just to prove his status and to fulfill his
desire (act 1, scene 10, pg.215). In the powerful scene where Stanley
looses total control of his actions and strikes the person who he has sworn to
protect, love and to hold. William’s shows Stanley’s lack of control and hatred
to a new threat in his life, Blanche. What makes this scene so important to the
topic is the way that the three characters react once the party has broken up.

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Blanche is in her usual state of panic; Stella has retreated to up-stairs while
Stanley stumbles around calling out ‘Steeelllaaa’ in a drunken sweaty animal
like manner. Surprisingly Stella answers to her ‘mate’s’ calls and embraces him,
they then exchange words of compassion and kiss, Stanley then picks her up and
carries her off to his den to make-love, which is Stanley’s way of saying sorry.

Stanley has to be the domineering figure in his relationships we see it not only
with Stella and Blanche, but with his friends as well. He is a leader and does
not like it when someone tries to complicate his role. William’s uses a
different type of savagery in Blanche’s character. Blanche is more deceptive and
exaggerated than Stanley is, he tries to hide her age, from others, by constant
bathing and dim lighting, and from herself, by drinking and lying. Through out
the whole play she is trying to hide here real identity, the actual animal
instincts that are inside her. She hides these with perfume, wearing fancy
clothes, even by putting a lampshade to hide the actual light. She also attempts
to steal Stella away from Stanley by relating him to an animal. This is best
represented when Blanche says; “He acts like an animal, has animals habits!
Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one! There’s even something –
sub-human – something Not quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something –
ape-like about him, like one of those pictures I’ve seen in anthropological
studies! Thousands and thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he
is – Stanley Kowalski survivor of the Stone Age! Bearing the raw meat home
from the kill in the jungle!studies! Thousands and thousands of years have
passed him right by, and there he is – Stanley Kowalski – survivor of the Stone
Age! Bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle! (act 1 scene 9
pg. 119). Despite the fact that there is a lot of truth in Blanche’s words she
deceives herself by her drinking and her need to feel ‘wanted by men’. She
blames society for these ‘cravings’ and states that she only does it to
‘survive’. Blanche is not happy with her actual self, so she is always trying to
hide it. Although she appears the opposite of Stanley they both share the same
characteristics. They both are very lustful, they both drink a lot, and they are
both very competitive toward each other. They are both savages raised in
different worlds. William’s character Stella seems to set the standard for the
civilized person, but at a closer look Stella may be just as guilty of savagery
as Stanley and Blanche. The humble Stella has ‘desires’ just like Blanche and
Stanley; she needs Stanley for his security and companionship, she likes to feel
overpowered by a rugged man. Stella’s weakness is present throughout the play,
when she takes Stanley’s word over Stella’s, but more so when she goes back to
Stanley after being struck by him. Stella wakes up in the morning and everything
is back to normal after turning on the ‘colored lights’ with Stanley. Once again
with Stella we see that she enjoys sex. At the end of the play she knows that
her husband, Stanley, raped her sister but still decides to be with him. She
wants sex and she needs it. There are some things that happen between a man
and a woman in the dark(Act 1, scene 8, pg 109) Stella is basically admitting
that her and Stanleys relationship is based around sex. Which is a very
animal instinct. Stella, although does not say it, enjoys being domineered. She
needs it. There is no doubt that Tennessee Williams believes ‘we are all savages
at heart.’ He seems to indirectly-attack the way in which society makes people
think and act towards the more untamed desire, guilt, spiritual torment, and
repressed sexuality. In the play every one has certain basic animal instincts
and all of our characteristics can be drawn back to that. He seems to base most
relationships on sex, which is the most natural, act that humans and all other
animals can do. All three of these characters have the same personalities in
many ways. Blanche hides her real emotions and her savageness, While
Stanley does the opposite and does not hide it enough. He lets all of the cards
out on the table. And Stella I believe is the most intriguing character of them
all. She grew up with Blanche and knows that life style but Stanley has shown
her his world and she is mixed up in between the two. She is like a ping pong
ball. And ultimately Stanley wins the game, by her love for lust. All of these
characters can be compared to their primate species, and Williams reveals it in
this play.


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