Brutal Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire

Brutal Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire

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Brutal Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire              

In Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire"(Williams 2008-2075; additional references by page number only.) the characters are extremely physical. The most physical of all characters in the play was Stanley Kowalski. Stanley is considered to be a brutal, domineering man with animal-like traits. The best relationship to illustrate Stanley's brutality is the one between he and his wife, Stella. Stanley treats Stella badly. He beats Stella and is impolite to her in front of other people. He rarely takes her suggestions and often scolds her. Stanley only acts kindly to Stella when he wants to make love with her. There is evidence in scene three of Stanley's brutality. [At the poker game.] STELLA: How much longer is this game going to continue? STANLEY: Till we get ready to quit. ...Why don't you women go up and sit with Eunice? STELLA: Because it is nearly two-thirty A.M.... [A chair scrapes. STANLEY gives a loud whack of his hand on her thigh.] STELLA: [Sharply.] That's not fun, Stanley. (to Blanche) It makes me so mad when he does that in front of people. (2026-27) ...Shortly after this incident during the same scene... [BLANCHE turns the radio on. STANLEY stalks fiercely through the portieres into the bedroom. He crosses to the small white radio and snatches it off the table. With a shouted oath, he tosses the instrument out the window.] STELLA: Drunk, drunk animal thing, you!... BLANCHE: [Wildly.] Stella, watch out, he's... [STANLEY charges after STELLA.] MEN: [Feebly] Take it easy, Stanley. Easy fellow... STELLA: You lay your hands on me and I'll... [She backs out of sight. He advances and disappears. There is the sound of a blow, STELLA cries out. BLANCHE screams and runs into the kitchen. The men rush forward and there is grappling and cursing. Something is overturned with a crash.] BLANCHE: [Shrilly.] My sister is going to have a baby! (2031) These are just two examples of Stanley's brutality towards Stella. Near the end of the play, the reader discovers that Stanley has raped Blanche. This is probably considered to be his most brutal act during the play. Stanley doesn't want to let anyone destroy his marriage. When he finds that Blanche is talking bad about him to Stella, he tries his best to "defeat" Blanche by staying with Stella. Blanche would say things such as "He acts like an animal, has an animal's habits!.

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... Stanley Kowalski, survivor of the Stone Age!....Don't, don't hang back with the brutes Stella!"(2038) Stanley overhears these insults but is too charming for Stella to resist, "She embraces him with both arms, fiercely, and full in the view of Blanche. He laughs and clasps her head to him. Over her head he grins through the curtains at Blanche."(2039) Stanley always wants to know the truth. He therefore, has no patience with Blanche's "fantasy world" and is cruel to her. He doesn't show any sympathy toward Blanche's past. Stanley is constantly trying to find out the truth of Blanche's past. He always wants to be in control. Tossing the meat package to Stella, ruffling Blanche's rich clothes, throwing the radio out of the window, and breaking plates when he is insulted are all done to show that he is in charge. Stanley resembles an animal more than he does a man. He is simple, straightforward, and honest. He tolerates nothing but the bare truth and lives in a plain world. Stanley's view of women is that they are lower than men are. Often times, Stanley is crude and vulgar.


Williams, Tennessee. "A Streetcar Named Desire." The Norton Introduction to Literature. Seventh Ed. Eds Beaty and Hunter. New York: Norton and Company, 1998: 2008-2075.
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