A Streetcar Named Desire (idea)
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Defending Against Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is centered upon interpersonal relations. From the moment Stanley sees Blanche for the first time, he knows that she will greatly threaten the relationship he has with Stella. Throughout the play, Blanche criticizes the way that Stella lives and the way that she allows her husband to behave. By the end, Stanley knows that the only way he can protect his way of life is to remove Blanche from it. Stanley’s actions at the end of the play can be justified in that they are the only way to make sure Stella never challenges him again.
The first problem that Stanley encounters with Blanche is that she avoids the truth, which is often symbolized by light. She only is seen going to dark places, only meets people in the evenings and in places without much light. Blanche also refuses to be truthful when asked to reveal her age. Even Mitch, the person to whom she is most connected, is never allowed to find out her true age. “Not only would direct light divulge her true age, but it would also render her vulnerable to the truth” (“Streetcar”). It soon becomes clean that she can’t keep all her secrets forever. Stanley spends many hours researching these “shadowed secrets”(“Streetcar”). When he discovers what she had been up to recently, he wastes no time in telling Stella and Mitch. This is Stanley’s first step in his quest for total destruction of Blanche.
The second aspect of Blanche’s persona that threatens Stanley is that she pretends to be upper class when she clearly is not. When Stanley open’s Blanche’s trunk, he is amazed on the number of furs and the amount of jewelry she has. “Being a very poor judge of such things, Stanley does not realize that all of Blanche's possessions are cheap imitations…”(“Works”). Along the same lines, Blanche is obsessed with her outward appearance and constantly asking to be told how beautiful she is. From the first moment she enters the neighborhood, Blanche was complaining about the size of the house, the type of neighborhood, and especially about Stanley. Blanche refers to Stanley as everything from a “polack,” to a savage to common and unsophisticated. What disturbs Stanley the most is that she makes a very compelling argument to Stella on why she should stand up to him. This influence is seen in how Stella asks Stanley to help clear the table in scene 8.
Finally, Blanche disturbs Stanley because there is a mutual attraction between them. The insults Blanche uses against Stanley involving “…his animal prowess [also] indicate a strong fascination and subconscious desire [for him]”(“Works”). If this final aspect did not exist, then it would be sufficient for Stanley to just kick her out of town. Instead, “He must prove that the world is a pigsty and he is the king of pigs…”(“Works”). Stanley does this first, by telling Blanche’s boyfriend Mitch and sister Stella about her past. Finally, to make sure that Blanche has nothing left, Stanley corners her and rapes her, saying “We’ve had this date with each-other from the beginning”(130)
Stanley lives in a world that is very different from that in which Blanche resides. The greatest fear that Stanley has is that Stella will be coerced to join Blanche’s world and leave him. We see throughout the play how dependent Stanley is upon Stella and therefore understand how disturbing Blanche’s behavior is to him. If Blanche were a typical enemy who wronged Stanley, he would have beat her up, kicked her out of town and that would have been the end of it. However, when someone tries to undermine his way of life and the relationship he has with is wife, Stanley feels it justified to perform an act so atrocious, that it pushes Blanche over the edge and makes sure that she will never return. “Like all men, and animals, he [insists upon] security in his own home”(“Works”).
Works Cited“A Streetcar Named Desire”, Magill's Survey of Cinema, 06-15-1995.
“Works of Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire”, Monarch Notes, Simon & Schuster, Inc: 1963-1990
I wrote this a few years ago, so please don't steal it. Node your homework instead.