How does Tennessee Williams show conflict between Blanche and Stanley?

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Federica Gallo


English coursework                        

How does Tennessee Williams show conflict between Blanche and Stanley?

   A Streetcar Named Desire is a web of complex themes and conflicted characters. Set in New Orleans immediately following World War II, Tennessee Williams infuses Blanche and Stanley with the symbols of opposing class and differing attitudes towards sex and love. Yet there are no clear cut lines of good vs. evil, no character is neither completely good nor bad, because the main characters, especially Blanche, are so torn by conflicting and contradictory desires and needs.

The most obvious difference between  and  is one of social background. Whereas Blanche comes from an old Southern family and was raised to see her self as socially elite, Stanley comes from an immigrant family and is a proud member of the working class. They meet one another in the socially turbulent post war period in New Orleans, one of America’s most diverse cities.

When Blanche is introduced to the play Tennessee Williams describes her as ‘incongruous’ to the setting. As she appears to be wearing upper class vestments and expensive jewellery ‘…daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice…necklace, earrings, white gloves and a hat.’  Which immediately contrasts with the simple but poor New Orleans. Giving the impression that somehow Blanche has a sense of superiority over its inhabitants.

However despite her appearance,  is already a fallen woman in society’s eyes as she avoids reality, preferring to live in her own imagination instead of reality, due to the many misfortunes that occurred in her life; She claims to have lost Belle Reve, the DuBois family home, however maintains no proof of the happening, lost her job as a teacher, lost her young husband to suicide years earlier, also has been known to have had many lovers to satisfy her strong sexual urges and needs for survival, her restless drinking addiction, poorly hidden and finally her persecuting vanity which deprives her to be exposed to bright lights due to her obsession of fading beauty. However despite all the above, through out most of the play Blanche putts on the airs of a woman who has never known indignity.

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On the other hand Stanley is introduced as a down-to-earth. His chief amusements are gambling, bowling, sex, and drinking, and he lacks ideals and imagination. Could be described as the typical ‘macho man’, womaniser. ‘…since earliest manhood  the centre of his life has been pleasure with women…his appreciation of rough humour, his love for good drink and food and games, his car, his radio..’ Stanley has no patience for Blanche’s distortions of the truth, he sees her as untrustworthy and does not appreciate the way she attempts to fool him and his friends into thinking she is better than ...

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