car Named DesireA Streetcar Named Desire works as a drama because of the
conflicts between Stanley and Blanche. Discuss.
The themes of A streetcar Named Desire are mainly built on conflict, the conflicts between men and women, the conflicts of race, class and attitude to life, and these are especially embodied in Stanley and Blanche. Even in Blanches own mind there are conflicts of truth and lies, reality and illusion, and by the end of the play, most of these conflicts have been resolved.
At the beginning of the play, there is an equilibrium, Stanley and Stella have been living happily together in Elysian Fields, however the arrival of Blanche acts as a catalyst and immediately she begins to challenge their way of life with her values.
Blanche represents the Old American South, she was well educated, appreciates poetry and music, but The South is never glorified in the play, Blanche recollects the poverty and squalor of death there, Funerals are pretty compared to death.
However the society that was insistent on cultural values, on beauty and loyalty is portrayed through Blanches behaviour, and in her expectancy of others, I guess … I have – old fashioned ideals!
In contrast Stanley represents the immigrant New American, he is proud as hell of being one hundred per cent American, and can see no place for the old order of the Southern aristocracy who are incapable of holding on to their inherited wealth.
Stanley also represents the primitive side of man, and Blanche sees this, she describes him with insight in her speech in Scene Four, Stanley Kowalski – survivor of the Stone Age!
Stanley is very male in the sense that he feels men should be superior to women in every way. He likes to possess and control everything around him, he almost owns Stella, and he has changed from her days at Belle Reve, pulling her down off them columns and how she loved it. But the arrival of Blanche, and her aristocratic ways annoys Stanley, as Stella begins to revert to her old ways. Blanche encourages her to stand up to him, and continually stresses the difference in their levels, although Stanley is not ashamed that he was common as dirt. Therefore, the only way that he can overcome Blanche and restore his authority is to beat her and triumph over her physically, which he eventually does. Although ironically, it is the effect of Stanley and his actions on her mind that finally provokes her downfall.
This male domination is emphasised with the use of the different games at key moments in the play, all involving the men and intentionally excluding the women. In the first scene the men go bowling, while the women run behind and watch, this establishes the role of each sex in the society in which they live. When Blanche asks to join in and kibitz in the first game of poker, she is told by Stanley, in no uncertain terms, that She could not. The game of poker also acts as a metaphor, in the first game, when Blanche has just arrived and is beginning to threaten Stanley and Stellas marriage, Stanley is losing the game. Stella begins to argue with him, this questions his authority, he is not used to this and responds by striking her, thus conquering. However, in the last game, Stanley has managed to defeat Blanche, by attacking her, he is winning and in control, both of the poker and of Blanche. In the end he is the victor of the game of life.
All the men in the play exist at a physical level, they are loud, boisterous and vulgar. Appropriately they dress in dark, loud colours and Stanley is as coarse and direct and powerful as the primary colours he wears.
In contrast the women wear soft, more muted colours. The name Blanche obviously means white and it is at the moments of greatest pathos that Williams dresses his heroine in the colour that symbolises purity. When she spills coke on her white dress, it is to illustrate her stained past, by trying to remove the blemish, it is showing the way that she has tried to bolt out the truth of her past. Later, after Mitch leaves she is dressed in a somewhat soiled and crumpled white satin evening gown, her dreams of marrying Mitch and having a future together have been destroyed and she has been forced to accept the truth of her self and her past.
Blanches world is full of greys and pastel colours, she dislikes bright light and prefers to hide in the shadows and dim candle light that is her make-believe world. Because light symbolises truth, she uses the dark to hide the truth about herself, it hides her real age and looks, a matter of great importance to Blanche, I still have vanity … even now that my looks are slipping. She is an ethereal character, delicate and easily harmed, and this is why the simile of the moth befits her.Words
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