How miller wrote this speech depicts how men saw women in that time. It says to me that it is a woman’s duty to serve her husband. He wants to break her by threatening that she is forbidden to see her husband. This attitude towards women was not just apparent in Salem in 1642 but also in 1848. A group of women met in Seneca Falls in New York and one of the topics raised was a woman’s place in the family, ‘Their declaration of sentiments recognised that law rendered married women “civilly dead” (Stanton, Anthony and gage 1881, p70). Men have set up all rules of marriage and divorce “wholly regardless of the happiness of women…going upon a false supposition of supremacy of man and giving all power into his hands”‘.4
Miller had also chosen all male characters to be the conductors of the court. This goes back to my point that women are at less percentage of policy makers in America, ’13 percent of U.S senators; 14 percent of U.S representatives; 14 percent of governors; 28 percent of state wide elective officers; 22 percent of state legislations and 21 percent of mayors.’5
Sexuality in the play is also heightened. Miller raises Abigail’s age and lowers John Proctors and between them they have an affair, although there is no evidence that this really occurred in 1692. This maybe to dramatise to play, but it conveys Millers own interpretation of a woman. Sex is seen as a sin, the girls dance naked in the wood, and although it is a harmless activity in which they were doing. The setting of the play however suggests otherwise as it is a puritan community enjoyment of any nature is forbidden and they live only to serve God, ‘The main sin is sex, which has been notoriously equated with the Devil by way of original sin. The girls dance illicitly in the dark woods around a fire (another hellish symbol), some naked’.6
Desire is a feeling that drives most people that gives them choices and decides their outcomes. A street car named desire has the same sexual tensions as the Crucible in many ways. Sex or your sexual habits or preferences can be seen as a sin ‘with its references to unspeakable aspects of sexuality. Indeed, one reviewer called it the product of an “almost desperately morbid turn of mind,”‘ to me it is depicting Blanche as being suppressed by a culture. Sex is a taboo subject and Blanche’s desire is suppressed by society.
Sexism in the play is an underlying theme which is evident as women are seen to be the weaker sex. The friction between male and female becomes most apparent then Stanley is interrogating Stella about the papers for Belle Reve, a property which belongs to her family, he says ‘In the state of Louisiana we have the Napoleonic code according to which what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband and vice versa.’
A Streetcar Named Desire raises harsh issues that people do experience in society today, for example Blanche gets raped by her sisters husband, ‘in this climate we the loose structure and moral ambiguities of a streetcar named desire struck a chord of truth. Harold Clurman wrote in February 1948 that “its impact at this moment is especially strong, because it is virtually unique as a stage piece that is both personal and social and wholly a product of our life today”‘.8 Rape is a subject that has always been around but maybe not as talked about as it should be, Feminist theorists and political activists have brought attention to three sexuality issues – rape, sexual harassment and woman battery.
For many, these symbolize the exploitation women have suffered in male dominated societies. Only attacking and undermining the cultural support for these practices will secure the personal autonomy necessary for the pursuit of happiness. These problems raised by sexual intimidation and more importantly, their solutions, remained in the private sphere for centuries. In the 1960s and 1970s, the emerging women’s movement brought them to the public agenda , both at the federal level in every state.
So it was not until the 1960s that issue was raised politically in America, and it was only then that the laws changed so that this sort of behaviour became apparent in every state that it is unacceptable. A Streetcar named desire highlights what emotional power men can hold over women. Blanche is a lady tormented with heartache caused by a man and all of her actions since her heart was broken show the lack of respect for herself and not only was it the fact that her husband Allen had an afire but he then committed suicide and she probably carries around the guilt of that within her thoughts.
She says in scene: After the death of Allen – intimacies with strangers was all I seemed to fill my empty heart with…I think it was panic, just panic that drove me from one to another, hunting for some protection – here and there, in the most unlikely places – even at least, in a seventeen year old boy, but – somebody wrote the superintendent about it – “This woman is morally unfit for her position!”After reading the script I question why is it that women are often portrayed as desperate, and that they would do anything for a man or to feel loved? I think that this is how Williams wanted to portray women in this play, that a women’s life and choices are driven purely by men. Williams’ father left his sister, his mother and himself Williams opinion of women I believe would come from his own experiences and what maybe his mother had gone through.