Brutality and Deceit in A Streetcar Named Desire

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A Streetcar Named Desire is a socially challenging play in light of the way in which Tennessee Williams depicts the capacity of human nature for brutality and deceit. He takes the viewpoint that, no matter how structured or 'civilized' society is, all people will rely on their natural animal instincts, such as dominance and deception, to get themselves out of trouble at some stage in life. William's has created three main characters, Blanche Dubois, Stella Kowalski and Stanley Kowalski. Each of these characters is equally as civilized as the next, yet all are guilty of acts of savagery on different levels. Throughout the play Williams symbolically relates these three characters to animals, 'savages,' through the disclosure of their attitudes, beliefs, appearances and desires. The most obvious example of a savage in the play is Stanley Kowalski. He is a large well-toned, territorial male with simple beliefs and a short temper. He does not have many manners and does not care what people think of him. He seems very simple but there is more to him than meets the eye. Stanley feels threatened by Blanche not only because she has invaded his territory, but also because she is a reminder to his wife of what she sacrificed to marry him and of the severe limitations on what he has been able to provide her in return (Adler 51). At first, Stanley acts physically dominant over both Blanche and Stella, by rifling through Blanche’s possessions (Williams 124), by quoting to Stella and Blanche that "every man is a king" (Williams 197-198), by throwing the radio out the window in a drunken frenzy and by actually striking his pregnant wife (Stella) (Williams 152-155). However, towards the end of the play, Stanley realizes his ... ... middle of paper ... ...s that lifestyle that they shared in their youth. However, Stanley has shown her his world and she is caught between the two, like a ping-pong ball. Ultimately Stanley wins the game, because of Stella’s primal nature, her sex drive and her need to be dominated. It appears that Tennessee Williams has called for all the world to be cognizant of the fact that mankind is still a member of the animal kingdom in spite of society’s efforts to cloak his primal urges and somehow give the appearance that he is above the other animals. Works Cited Adler, Thomas P. A Streetcar Named Desire: The Moth and the Lantern. New York: Twayne, 1990. Kazan, Elia. Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Streetcar Named Desire. Ed. Jordan Miller. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1971. Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. Stuttgart: Phillipp Reclam, 1988.

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