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MonkeyNotes-A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
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Themes

The Themes of A Streetcar Named Desire are built on conflict, the conflicts between men and women and the conflicts of race, class, and attitude to life. The main differences that are developed during the play are between Blanche and Stanley. The first time they are shown on stage together, their differences are evident. Stanley has just returned from work in his rough denim work clothes, carrying his bowling jacket, and a bloodstained package of meat from the butcher's. In contrast, Blanche is daintily dressed in a white outfit with a fluffy bodice, matching pearl accessories, white gloves, and a hat. A refined, sophisticated woman, wearing furs and jewelry, is thrown into close contact with this rough, raw, representative of manhood; it is like beauty versus the beast.


Stanley's society only knows how to keep women in their place by treating them subordinately. For him, the wife's place is in the home, at his service day and night. When Stella begins to assert herself and comment on his bad manners, he rightly believes that Blanche's presence is the cause for it. She has brought Stella's personal identity to the forefront again. Stanley feels that the actions of the sisters together are a constant reminder of his lower working class background, and he feels inferior. As a male in a man's world, he does not want to feel inferior. He strikes back with violence, hitting Stella, throwing dishes, and ultimately raping Blanche. By overcoming his sister-in-law physically, he has won the conflict between them. Symbolically, the new, uncaring machine age has defeated the gentility of aristocracy of the Old South.

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