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What do you believe Tennessee Williamsis saying about human sexuality in A Street Car Named Desire?

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Introduction

What do you believe Tennessee Williams is saying about human sexuality in A Street Car Named Desire? Tennessee Williams presents each character in his/her typical gender roles that the attitudes of post-war America recognised. Stanley's family portrays a typical nuclear family that was common and ideal at the time. Stanley appears to be a fully masculine breadwinner who has power and control over his family. Williams uses Blanche and Stella's dependence on men to present and review the treatment of women during the transition from the old to the new South in post-war America. Blanche and Stella see male companions as their only means to achieve happiness, and they depend on men for both their sustenance and sexual desires: "When he is away for a week I nearly ...read more.

Middle

Williams highlights the dependence of women on men for financial needs when Blanche contacts Shep Huntleigh as an alternative to Stanley for financial support. For herself, Blanche sees marriage to Mitch as her means of escaping destitution, after she had been exploited by men and left with an unpleasant reputation, which makes her become an unappealing marriage prospect. As a widower, she is destitute, and so Blanche sees her only possibility of survival is to marry. She desires to marry Mitch, the gentle caring man who is dedicated to staying at home and caring for his sick mother. He is more sensitive than Stanley's other friends and gains his status by being very responsible as he looks after a vulnerable woman who years to see him married. ...read more.

Conclusion

However it was prohibited for a married woman to have an affair as she was regarded to be sexually satisfied. The men on the other hand had to fulfil a market need -prostitution. This is presented in A Street Car Named Desire when Steve regularly visits the whorehouse. His wife Eunice has quarrels with him when she finds out but always forgives him. In A Street Car Named Desire, sex leads to the death a character that affected Blanche's life. Throughout the play, Blanche is haunted by the deaths of her husband Allan Gray. Her husband's suicide results from the disapproval of the society and Blanche's of his homosexuality as he is regarded as a social pariah. In a London Production of the play, Allan Gray's partner was replaced by a black woman, which was not considered as disgusting as a homosexual. Sarah Khalil ...read more.

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Response to the question

This task is quite sophisticated for GCSE level, looking at the context of production and reception of sexuality. The knowledge shown here is great, and the argument built is strong. However, there isn't enough analysis within this essay as there ...

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Response to the question

This task is quite sophisticated for GCSE level, looking at the context of production and reception of sexuality. The knowledge shown here is great, and the argument built is strong. However, there isn't enough analysis within this essay as there isn't an engagement of how Williams presents sexuality in the play. If I were answering this question, I would be looking at how Blanche's sexuality becomes her hamartia, leading to her tragic downfall. This essay picks up upon Blanche's previous lover killing himself due to homosexuality, yet there is no discussion of why Williams chooses to use this. Further to this, I would be discussing how a contemporary audience would respond to this in relation to their sympathy towards Blanche.

Level of analysis

The analysis here is basic. There are a number of good points here, but there are few quotes to support them. Even when quotes are used there is little analysis of the language, imagery or craft used by Williams. This essay shows potential in the way it is able to comment on how sexuality is used, but I must stress how crucial analysis is before you make these judgements. Without a strong foundation of reasoning, essays won't receive top marks. I would be looking at the animalistic imagery used throughout, or the motif of the blue piano to denote sexuality. I liked the reference to contextual features, as this is one of the assessment objectives. I would note that these comments should be weaved into the argument, rather than being a bolt-on paragraph. However, what is shown here is a positively stark difference to an introductory paragraph which just gives useless background information.

Quality of writing

The essay has a good introduction, offering an insight into the line of argument. However, there is no conclusion to weave together the ideas! I feel this is possibly due to the lack of analysis meaning there is not much else to say. Some of the paragraphs have strong signposts, allowing for a focused argument. For example "Williams highlights the dependence of women on men for financial needs when Blanche contacts Shep Huntleigh as an alternative to Stanley for financial support." shows the ability to introduce the point and how it is relevant to the task. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are fine.


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Reviewed by groat 04/04/2012

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