In what way can A Streetcar Named Desire be seen as an exploration of”old” America versus the “new” America?
In the play, Blanche represents old America and Stanley represents new America. Why Blanche represents old America is because of her way of thinking, lifestyle and values. When Blanche walks into the room where the guys are playing poker, there is a great example of how Blanche represents old and Stanley new. When she walks in, the guys are sitting around the table, then Blanche says “Please don’t get up”. Stanley replies “nobody’s going to get up, so don’t be worried”. Before men were always supposed to treat women with respect, and get up from the chair when they came in, and when they left. Blanche expects or imagines that they are going to treat her like that. In this way Blanche appear as the “old” America, how people used to think. Stanley is a large contrast and represents new America, when he says nobody’s going to get up. None of them were even thinking of getting up for her, because that is not their manners, and that is not what people do in the “new” America. New America is when there was a lot of immigration. In this new “world” the old fashions and norms were bit by bit disappearing, for instance racism. Also the lower classes in society became more common. This is the world Stanley lives in. In contrast Blanche is stuck in the old world.
Stanley represents new America because he is from Poland. America’s growth of immigration is shown, and very many people in America today are immigrants. Blanches behaviour towards Stanley’s background shows that she is old-fashioned. When Stella says that Stanley is Polish, Blanche says “They’re something like Irish, aren’t they?”. Her racist view is very old and conventional.
Stanley represents the “new” America, and he can be seen as a message from Tennessee Williams about how the society in America was changing and what it was changing into. Stanley is a chauvinist, because he obviously takes what he desires, referring to where he rapes Blanche. Stanley is very dominant, he rules and his word is always the strongest. He has a strong sexual desire, even in the end of the play when Blanche is taken to the hospital, he starts making love to Stella. It is quite obvious that Tennessee Williams shows Stanley as “new” America, and this might be what he means America is develo...
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...t with Mitch. When Stanley beat Stella, and she was mad at him, he shouted out Stella’s name, she came down, and they then spent the night together. The next morning Stella and Blanche discuss the incident. Blanche asks “How could you come back in this place last night? Stella answers “You're making much too much fuss about this”. This also demonstrates that the “new” and “old” America collides because of their different values and norms.
At the end of the play when the doctor has come to take Blanche away, she says “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”. This is Blanche’s final statement in the play. She perceives the doctor as the rescuing gentleman she has been waiting for since she came. But ironically, strangers have never done her any good. The truth is that strangers have only been kind in exchange for sex. Strangers like Stanley, Mitch and the people of her hometown Laurel have not given Blanche the sympathy she so sorely needed and deserved. Stanley’s class hatred seeks to destroy Blanche. His cruelty, combined with Blanche’s fragile state of mind and insecure personality, leaves her mentally isolated from reality by the end of the play.
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