The Dark Side of A Streetcar Named Desire

The Dark Side of A Streetcar Named Desire

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In A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams, the characters presented represent Williams' own view of society.  In Streetcar, Williams has created a medium to observe and reflect upon the darkest aspects of society and the result of these societal downfalls.

Williams has portrayed numerous societal downfalls, such as the idea that he (or she) who tries to hide his true self and lie to the world ends up, above all, hurting himself. This statement, which lies just below the surface in Streetcar, reflects the difficulties Williams had in finding his own place in life. Williams created that this play as a sort of "slap" toward a society which rejected Williams and his way of telling the world, "If you keep behaving like this, the whole place will go stark-raving mad!" This is distinctly seen in both the suicide of Blanche's young husband and her own decent into madness.

Another collapse highlighted by Williams is the idea of the "macho-male," which extends to homophobia. Stanley is obviously Williams' characterization of this type of personality, and it is his brutality and chauvinism that lead Blanche to sink completely into the depths of insanity. By raping Blanche, Stanley is not only exerting his physical power over this disruptive woman in his life, but is attempting to show the world (and himself) that he is not a homosexual.

In the character of Stella, the reader's primary reaction is to support and identify with her, but in reality she represents the type of person who has given up on the ideals she once knew and has, in a sense, joined forces with the enemy. She deserted Blanche at Belle Reve and has now settled for mediocrity. By the end of the play, our sympathies lie with Blanche because she was searching the world for security and ended up alone and mad. Williams is reminding the reader that, in this world, everyone is striving for a security and it was this natural desire that brought upon Blanche's descent into madness.

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In A Streetcar Named Desire Williams has reminded his readers of the social implications which lay the groundwork for this powerful work.

Works Cited

da Ponte, Durant. "Williams' Feminine Characters." Twentieth  Century Interpretations of A Streetcar Named Desire: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Jordan Y. Miller. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 53-56.
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