Stella uses a metaphor to describe Stanley’s undesirable behaviour and says that he is ‘too busy making a pig of himself’; this could show that he is not a very civilised man. This could also be shown through the strong dynamic verbs in the stage directions, Stanley is described as he ‘hurls’ and ‘grunts’, these could suggest that Stanley is seen as being rather primitive with not much manners. Stanley also reaches to ‘spear his fork’ into the food which he then ‘eats with his fingers’, the choice of lexis used here also suggests a rather primitive identity to Stanley’s character as the words ‘spear’ and eating with his fingers connotes a cave-like animal, reflecting how he is seen by the other characters.
However, in comparison to this Stanley sees himself as ‘the king around here’, he feels that he is quite superior to the others, maybe because he is the only man there and describing himself as a king. Stanley seems to see his identity differently to the way the other characters see him. ‘I am one hundred per cent American’, ‘and proud as hell of it’, this seems to reflect Stanley’s confidence in his own identity and he seems to be sure of who and what he is. He defends this to Blanche and Stella and seems to have a good idea about his own identity, even though others may think differently of him. Stanley speaks using a lot of colloquial language such as ‘gonna be’ and ‘H’lo. Aw, yeh’, this could show attitudes towards his identity, reflecting perhaps where he is from, his origins and his identity is different to the others, he seems to speak differently to Blanche and Stella as they don’t really use a lot of colloquial language.
In contrast to this, the use of interrogatives in Blanche’s utterances could show her nervousness for example; she asks Stella ‘What happened while I was bathing? What did he tell you Stella?’, the way that this phrase seems to be spoken seems quite urgent, the way she asks the questions one after the other shows her unstable character and personal identity the way that she wants to know everything. It also seems like she doesn’t really trust anyone as she is asking so many questions. This shows that Blanche sees her identity as different to the others there and feels quite superior to them as she feels she should know everything, like she needs to be the centre of attention perhaps. Blanche as a nervous character is also shown through her use of pauses especially when she is on the phone asking for Mitch. ‘Please…. Oh… I…’ this could show her uncertainty at what she is doing calling Mitch, she could feel that she is doing the wrong thing. Blanche’s state of mind is shown though the stage directions here as she ‘remains by the phone with a lost, frightened look’, suggesting she is in her own world and not really in the real one. This shows attitudes to her identity and how she sees herself, and also attitudes to illusion and reality how she is lost in an illusion and not in tune with reality.
The way that Blanche speaks using a lot of poetic language reinforces the fact that she doesn’t feel in the real world but in one of her own. She uses many metaphors, for example one describing candles and children, Stanley even describes her language as ‘poetry’ which could be seen as perhaps unrealistic or not natural to speak like that in everyday life. Blanche starts out by saying how she hopes candles will light and glow in Stella’s children’s eyes, then she goes on to say that ‘candles burn out in little boys’ and girls’ eyes,’ this can be referring to innocence being lost and cannot be recaptured, as ‘wind blows them out’. Blanche feels that she has already lost her innocence; she is alone here where no one understands her, she might feel that she is different to everyone else.
Stella’s character seems to be described quite differently to her husband Stanley. Lexis used to describe Stella as she ‘begins to cry weakly’, the adverb ‘weakly’ shows us a lot about her identity and both how she is and how she is seen by others especially Stanley, as weak. However Stella could also be seen as not that weak a person as she seems to be talking to Stanley whilst giving a lot of orders to him, this is shown through the use of imperatives as she talks to him. For example she tells him to ‘go and wash up’ and ‘help me clear the table’, which shows that she is not that weak a character and can stand up for herself as she is brave enough to tell Stanley what to do. However Stanley doesn’t really listen to her, suggesting that although Stella may feel happy with her identity and who she is, Stanley thinks differently of her and still does believe that she is just a weak woman.
Stella’s identity as quite a strong, confident person can also be seen in the way that she talks to her sister Blanche. She uses exclamatories and repetition when answering Blanche about what Blanche thinks Stanley has told Stella. She says ‘Nothing, nothing, nothing!’, showing that she is making a firm statement and is sure of what she is saying. This shows that she obeys Stanley, or she doesn’t want Blanche to interfere with their relationship. Stella is perhaps torn between the two; her husband and her sister as both are quite different and she is the one in the middle. Stella might feel that although Stanley and Blanche are both a part of her family, she cannot fully have both and so has chosen Stanley, he is her future.
In the play as a whole, attitudes to identity are quite important as they show us a lot about the characters and who they are; attitudes to identity also show us how the characters are likely to behave later on the in play. With Stella we come to see how she is caught in the middle off maybe her two identities; her past which included her sister Blanche and her new life with her husband Stanley. At the end of the play though we come to see how her relationship with her husband is perhaps a little stronger than the one she shares with Blanche as she obeys Stanley and sends Blanche away. Identity is quite important as it shapes how the other characters treat one another, for example with Blanche, discovering the true identity of Allen ultimately lead to his death and perhaps the beginning of Blanche’s troubles.