A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire research paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this
A Streetcar Named Desire term paper begins by introducing the character of Stanley Kowalski as he approaches his and his wife's ramshackle apartment, accompanied by another coarsely dressed man, and brusquely tosses a blood-stained parcel from the butcher to his wife Stella with only the monosyllable “Meat!” by way of an explanation. This interaction can be interpreted as validating to an extent Blanche Du Bois’ perception of him as a Neanderthal-like, primitive man. In several instances, Tennessee Williams describes him wearing rich, vibrant colors akin to the plumage of a “richly feathered male bird.” The group of friends Stanley invites for poker is portrayed as a guttural, rough bunch of animals. On all levels, Stanley represents the naturalistic, unfettered fulfillment of man’s primal urges.
The Characters of A Streetcar Named Desire
Though morally repugnant, there is an inherent fascination in “the peculiar blend of childhood innocence and vibrant sexuality to be found in elemental people”. Stanley represents the following in A Streetcar Named Desire:
- Pure, virile manhood, unencumbered by the intricacies of gentility, which entangle Blanche and confuse her self-identity.
- As a corollary of Stanley’s symbolic qualities of pure, primal maleness, he consistently offers and demands nothing less than the absolute truth, even to the point of near cruelty, as when he stymies Blanche’s attempt to force him to compliment her appearance.
- The ultra-realistic point of view that Stanley represents is directly opposed to the “antiquated idealism” and illusive, romantic world view that Blanche Du Bois staunchly adheres to.
- On all levels, Stanley represents the naturalistic, unfettered fulfillment of man’s primal urges.
Blanche Du Bois represents the mind-set that directly opposes that exemplified by Stanley. She arrives at the Kowalski’s squalid residence in a state of despondency, because she is no longer able to rely on the strict code of refined deportment to shield her from the consequences of her licentious and cruel past behavior. Every element of Blanche echoes her self-professed reliance on invention and illusion. Her absurdly elevated mode of speaking, her excessively ornate clothing, and her constant reliance on euphemism and understatement are some of the “makeshift resources that she . . . [uses] to maintain her life in this alien realm”. She has been firmly entrenched in the Southern tradition of doublespeak and deception. The two most crucial junctures in her life have both resulted from a breakdown of the intricate system of social niceties in the context of which Blanche can safely function. Both her sudden, cruel indictment of her young husband’s homosexuality and her rape at the hands of her sister’s husband are events where the network of illusion she clings to has suddenly collapsed. As a means of survival, Blanche has come to shun the input of “experiential data” and rely instead on the dubious “truths of the heart”. She can only successfully function in the kind of cultural framework that can manage, for example, to represent nymphomania as flirting. When she is faced with the irrefutable existence of “the animal struggle for existence” that characterizes modern life, she chooses madness, which can be construed as the inevitable final step along the continuum of illusory thinking.
Williams' Characterization in A Streetcar Named Desire
Although Williams uses the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire to represent the extremes on the spectrum of reality and truth, he uses the character of Stella to depict the midpoint of these two modes of existence. Stella, like the great majority of people, is realistic about some circumstances and events in her life, and self-deluding about others. For example, she is comfortable in acknowledging the commonness of her husband and the shabbiness of her domestic surroundings, but she is unable to admit to herself the possibility that Blanche accusing Stanley of rape might be an actuality. In this manner, Williams uses the character of Stella to mediate between the harsh, brutal reality depicted in Stanley’s demeanor and the romantic machinations Blanche uses to handle the problems in her life. Stella’s attempts to reconcile the competing forces of truth and illusion parallel the audience’s struggle to decipher the various positive and negative qualities Williams assigns to his respective symbols of reality and fantasy and determine the true protagonist of the play.