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Essay about Comparing A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Comparing A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


In the game of life man is given the options to bluff, raise, or fold. He is dealt a hand created by the consequences of his choices or by outside forces beyond his control. It is a never ending cycle: choices made create more choices. Using diverse, complex characters simmering with passion and often a contradiction within themselves, Tennessee Williams examines the link of past and present created by man's choices in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Delicate Blanche, virile Stanley. Dynamic Maggie, impotent Brick. Williams' protagonists are distinctly different in temperament. In "A Streetcar Named Desire" Blanche exemplifies the stereotypical old south: educated, genteel, obsolete. Stanley is the new south: primitive, crude, ambitious. Blanche, a fading beauty, uses her sugary charm and soft southern ways to attract men. In comparison, Stanley "sizes women up at a glance, with sexual classifications" to "determine the way he smiles at them" (Williams, Street 29). Course and deliberately aggressive, he is a "survivor of the stone age" (Williams, Street 72). Despite their differences they both possess a raw sensuality. In their first confrontation, Blanche's thick display of charm angers and attracts Stanley. He wants her to be truthful and "lay her cards on the table" but simultaneously would "get ideas" about Blanche if she wasn't Stella's sister (Williams, Street 40-41). Their relationship overflows with sexual tension as they battle for Stella. Stanley, the new south, defeats Blanche, the old south. After destroying her chance for security, his sexual assault erases her last traces of sanity.

Similarly opposites attract in "Cat on...


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...ms." Tennessee Williams: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1977. 45-60.

Fauk, Signi Lenea. Tennessee Williams. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1978. 1-167.

Heilman, Robert. "Tennessee Williams' Approach to Tragedy." Tennessee Williams: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1977. 17-35.

Stanton, Stephen. "Introduction." Tennessee Williams: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey : Prentice-Hall, 1977. 1-16.

Weales, Gerald. "Tennessee Williams' Achievement in the Sixties." Tennessee Williams: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc, 1977. 61-70.

Williams, Tennessee. Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1958. 3-85.

---. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: Penguin Books, 1974. 12-142.


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