A Comparison of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Master Builder Essay

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The Comedy and Tragedy of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Master Builder

It has been said that the world is a comedy to those that think, and a tragedy to those who feel.  This philosophy is supported by two important literary works, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams and The Master Builder by Henrik Ibsen. In each piece, the sensitive and emotional characters experience tremendous pain, while the cold and unfeeling characters are simply amused by the pain of others.

In A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams shows two characters who have very different experiences of the world.  For Stanley Kowalski, the world is a comedy. He constantly causes pain to others, especially Blanche, and then laughs at her pain.  For example, he hands Blanche a ticket to Laurel as a birthday present, kicking her out of the house.  To Stanley this very cruel and insensitive gesture is amusing, but to Blanche it is a hurtful token of rejection.  Blanche is a character who experiences the tragedy of the world, as events affect her deeply.  For instance, she can not understand how her sister, Stella, can put up with the abuse that Stanley inflicts upon her.  Blanche is very concerned about her sister and becomes extremely dismayed when Stanley hits her.  This shows the sensitivity of Blanche's character that leads to her tragedy.

Tennessee Williams uses several literary elements to reveal how characters respond differently to the world.  The characterization of Blanche and Stanley is essential, as Stanley is depicted as an insensitive, brutal creature who has no regard for others' emotions.  Therefore, he feels no regret as he destroys the relationship between Blanche and Mitch.&n...

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...ive without a conscience-- allows her to gain control of Solness, playing on his weaknesses. The irony of this situation is that the "great master builder" is actually a sensitive man who experiences his demise at the hands of a young girl.  The tragedy that occurs in the final scene when Solness falls from the tower is seen as a comedy for Hilda, who continues to cheer for her own success.

These two works, A Streetcar Named Desire and The Master Builder, illustrate how life can be looked upon differently by characters who possess a deep and sensitive heart and those who lack human feelings. As revealed in the two plays, those who feel things deeply tend to be affected by pain and tragedy in their lives, while those who do not possess sympathetic emotions tend to be amused by the pain of others, often contributing to the tragedy experienced by those who feel.

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