Stella is not a character in her own right but simply a pawn in Blanche and Stanley's game. Discuss.

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Stella is Blanche’s younger sister and Stanley’s wife. Throughout the play Stella is represented as the calm foil to Blanche’s hysterical nature and Stanley’s violence. There is a huge degree of ambiguity about Stella’s character. The stage directions when she is introduced offer little information about her. The only description provided is that she is “a gentle young woman … of a background obviously quite different from her husbands.” Even in the little description of her, Tennessee Williams uses the noun “husband,” this shows that the only reason to mention Stella is to reinforce and develop Stanley’s character.

Her descriptions are also a huge contrast to the descriptions of Blanche and Stanley. Blanche’s description consists of base adjectives such as “incongruous” and is very detailed: “her appearance is incongruous to the setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district.” This could’ve been done by Tennessee Williams to show that Stella isn’t as superior a character as Stanley and Blanche, and could therefore suggest that she is just a pawn in their game.

Stanley’s description when he is introduced is: “since earliest manhood the centre of [Stanley’s] life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of I ...  richly feathered male bird among hens..” This again reinforces the power and superiority Stanley has over Stella. By calling him a “male bird,” Williams makes him fit in with the stereotypical man of the time – macho, strong and a womaniser. Even though he is married, by referencing him as someone who loves pleasure with women, it symbolises the fact that Stella is his prize for gaining pleasure with Blanche. At the end of the play Stella confides in Eunice that “couldn’t believe her [Blanche’s] story and go on living with Stanley.” This suggests that she was a pawn in Stanley’s game and the play almost acts as a competition between the two characters to see who gains the most trust from Stanley – a game that Stanley obviously wins.  The reason for Stella having to stay reflects the close-mindedness of the time in which the play was written. Stella doesn’t have a “regular allowance” given to her from Stanley and therefore if she was to leave then she would not have any money to look after herself or her child. Therefore Stella is simply a prize to be won.

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Another way Stella is shows as not being a character in her own right is through using her as a means to develop the personality of the other characters. For example, in her first appearance, Stanley tosses a package of bloody meat from the butchers at Stella. Eunice and the Negro Woman and laugh about this highlighting the fact that Tennessee Williams intended it as a sexual innuendo. Tossing the package of meat symbolically captures Stanley and Stella’s relationship – he hurls himself physically at her and although Stella “cries out in protest” she later “laughs” delightedly thus showing the ...

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