What are the contrasts between Stanley and Blanche in "A Streetcar named Desire"?

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What are the contrasts between Blanche and Stanley in ‘A streetcar named desire’?

Blanche and Stanley are at juxtaposition towards each other, there is a conflict between them that goes beyond simply disliking one another. One of the explanations for this is that Blanche comes from a very different world to Stanley. In many ways Stanley’s represents new America whereas Blanche represents the old, America. This contrast of hard working, manual labour against well mannered, chivalrous and delicate is one of the very first conflicts of culture. In a way Blanche represents the old south, which in history supported slavery. We can see Blanche representing the confederacy, the posh upper class slave owners and Stanley as the would-be slave, resentful of his treatment from the South and by Blanche.

Another contrast is the animalistic natures of the two characters. In many ways Blanche is like a moth. Her delicate nature and fragility invoke images of the cover of the book.  Stanley is more like a bear, a heavily territorial creature that will fiercely protect its mate. Further evidence that Blanche is like a moth can be seen in her behaviour. Moths never really stay in one place; they flit from place to place, and in Blanches case from one danger to another. The cover shows a harsh light bulb, which is the harsh reality of the world in a sense. Blanche often seeks out the light because of what she lost, even though it hurts her. The flamingo hotel is one example of this; the ‘young man’ is another. She seeks to find that spotlight that will light up her world again and risk herself in the process. Stanley on the other hand does not have the capacity for those feelings. He wears bold, primary colours such as red and green and purple, which convey his animalistic passion whereas Blanche is not motivated in this way. Relying often on the ethereal illusions of the mind. This is perhaps what frustrates Stanley; Blanche is nothing substantial, she is almost devoid of reason. This goes against Stanley’s perceptions about the world, that everything is black and white and that you are either friend or foe. Much like in nature.

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In many ways Blanches character is something of a contradiction, she seeks out new love in order to find what was lost, and yet she has not looked inwards at herself to question her own actions much. She regrets telling Alan that he disgusted her and she defends her picture of him in an act of defiance against Stanley. This contradicts my point earlier about her only believing in the ethereal. Because in order to counter Stanley’s passion you have to fight fire with fire and be passionate yourself. So perhaps deep down Blanche is more like Stanley. She is ...

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