Streetcar Named Desire

Streetcar Named Desire ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a very socially challenging play in the way in which Tennessee Williams depicts how brutal and deceiving human nature can be. He takes the point of view 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, even if they don’t realize it. William’s has created three main characters of society, they are, Blanche Dubiou, Stella and Stanley Kowalski. Each of these characters is equally as civilized as one another, yet their acts of savagery are all on different levels. Throughout the play Williams symbolically relates these three characters to animals, ‘savages,’ by the use 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 I much more to him. He feels threatened by Blanche because she moves in on his territory and wants Stella to leave him. At first, Stanley acts physically dominant over both Blanche and Stella; by rifling through Blanches possessions (act 1 scene 3 pg.124 ), quoting to Stella and Blanche that every man is a king (act scene 8 pg.197-198 ), throwing the radio out the window in a drunken frenzy and actually striking his pregnant wife (Stella) (act 1 scene 3 pg.

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152-155). However, towards the end of the play, Stanley realizes his power over Blanche and he acts a lot wiser, but still with the same intentions. He dresses smarter, talks to her nicely, but mockingly, and finally rapes her just to prove his status and to fulfill his desire (act 1, scene 10, pg.215). In the powerful scene where Stanley looses total control of his actions and strikes the person who he has sworn to protect, love and to hold. William’s shows Stanley’s lack of control and hatred to a new threat in his life, Blanche. What makes this scene so important to the topic is the way that the three characters react once the party has broken up.

Blanche is in her usual state of panic; Stella has retreated to up-stairs while Stanley stumbles around calling out ‘Steeelllaaa’ in a drunken sweaty animal like manner. Surprisingly Stella answers to her ‘mate’s’ calls and embraces him, they then exchange words of compassion and kiss, Stanley then picks her up and carries her off to his den to make-love, which is Stanley’s way of saying sorry. Stanley has to be the domineering figure in his relationships we see it not only with Stella and Blanche, but with his friends as well. He is a leader and does not like it when someone tries to complicate his role. William’s uses a different type of savagery in Blanche’s character. Blanche is more deceptive and exaggerated than Stanley is, he tries to hide her age, from others, by constant bathing and dim lighting, and from herself, by drinking and lying. Through out the whole play she is trying to hide here real identity, the actual animal instincts that are inside her. She hides these with perfume, wearing fancy clothes, even by putting a lampshade to hide the actual light.

She also attempts to steal Stella away from Stanley by relating him to an animal. This is best represented when Blanche says; “He acts like an animal, has animals habits! Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one! There’s even something – sub-human – something Not quite to the stage of humanity yet! Yes, something – ape-like about him, like one of those pictures I’ve seen in anthropological studies! Thousands and thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is – Stanley Kowalski survivor of the Stone Age! Bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle!studies! Thousands and thousands of years have passed him right by, and there he is – Stanley Kowalski – survivor of the Stone Age! Bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle! (act 1 scene 9 pg. 119). Despite the fact that there is a lot of truth in Blanche’s words she deceives herself by her drinking and her need to feel ‘wanted by men’. She blames society for these ‘cravings’ and states that she only does it to ‘survive’.

Blanche is not happy with her actual self, so she is always trying to hide it. Although she appears the opposite of Stanley they both share the same characteristics. They both are very lustful, they both drink a lot, and they are both very competitive toward each other. They are both savages raised in different worlds. William’s character Stella seems to set the standard for the civilized person, but at a closer look Stella may be just as guilty of savagery as Stanley and Blanche. The humble Stella has ‘desires’ just like Blanche and Stanley; she needs Stanley for his security and companionship, she likes to feel overpowered by a rugged man.

Stella’s weakness is present throughout the play, when she takes Stanley’s word over Stella’s, but more so when she goes back to Stanley after being struck by him. Stella wakes up in the morning and everything is back to normal after turning on the ‘colored lights’ with Stanley. Once again with Stella we see that she enjoys sex. At the end of the play she knows that her husband, Stanley, raped her sister but still decides to be with him. She wants sex and she needs it. There are some things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark(Act 1, scene 8, pg 109) Stella is basically admitting that her and Stanleys relationship is based around sex.

Which is a very animal instinct. Stella, although does not say it, enjoys being domineered. She needs it. There is no doubt that Tennessee Williams believes ‘we are all savages at heart.’ He seems to indirectly-attack the way in which society makes people think and act towards the more untamed desire, guilt, spiritual torment, and repressed sexuality. In the play every one has certain basic animal instincts and all of our characteristics can be drawn back to that. He seems to base most relationships on sex, which is the most natural, act that humans and all other animals can do.

All three of these characters have the same personalities in many ways. Blanche hides her real emotions and her savageness, While Stanley does the opposite and does not hide it enough. He lets all of the cards out on the table. And Stella I believe is the most intriguing character of them all. She grew up with Blanche and knows that life style but Stanley has shown her his world and she is mixed up in between the two. She is like a ping pong ball.

And ultimately Stanley wins the game, by her love for lust. All of these characters can be compared to their primate species, and Williams reveals it in this play.