‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a very socially challenging play in the way inwhich Tennessee Williams depicts how brutal and deceiving human nature can be.
He takes the point of view that no matter how structured or ‘civilized’ societyis all people will rely on their natural animal instincts, such as dominance anddeception, to get themselves out of trouble at some stage in life, even if theydon’t realize it. William’s has created three main characters of society, theyare, Blanche Dubiou, Stella and Stanley Kowalski. Each of these characters isequally as civilized as one another, yet their acts of savagery are all ondifferent levels. Throughout the play Williams symbolically relates these threecharacters to animals, ‘savages,’ by the use of their attitudes, beliefs,appearances and desires.Order now
The most obvious example of a savage in the play isStanley Kowalski. He is a large well-toned, territorial male with simple beliefsand a short temper. He does not have many manners and does not care what peoplethink of him. He seems very simple but there I much more to him.
He feelsthreatened by Blanche because she moves in on his territory and wants Stella toleave him. At first, Stanley acts physically dominant over both Blanche andStella; by rifling through Blanches possessions (act 1 scene 3 pg. 124 ), quotingto 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 hispregnant wife (Stella) (act 1 scene 3 pg. 152-155).
However, towards the end ofthe play, Stanley realizes his power over Blanche and he acts a lot wiser, butstill with the same intentions. He dresses smarter, talks to her nicely, butmockingly, and finally rapes her just to prove his status and to fulfill hisdesire (act 1, scene 10, pg. 215). In the powerful scene where Stanleylooses total control of his actions and strikes the person who he has sworn toprotect, love and to hold. William’s shows Stanley’s lack of control and hatredto a new threat in his life, Blanche.
What makes this scene so important to thetopic 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 whileStanley stumbles around calling out ‘Steeelllaaa’ in a drunken sweaty animallike 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 andcarries 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 onlywith Stella and Blanche, but with his friends as well. He is a leader and doesnot like it when someone tries to complicate his role.
William’s uses adifferent type of savagery in Blanche’s character. Blanche is more deceptive andexaggerated than Stanley is, he tries to hide her age, from others, by constantbathing and dim lighting, and from herself, by drinking and lying. Through outthe whole play she is trying to hide here real identity, the actual animalinstincts that are inside her. She hides these with perfume, wearing fancyclothes, even by putting a lampshade to hide the actual light.
She also attemptsto steal Stella away from Stanley by relating him to an animal. This is bestrepresented 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 anthropologicalstudies! Thousands and thousands of years have passed him right by, and there heis – Stanley Kowalski survivor of the Stone Age! Bearing the raw meat homefrom the kill in the jungle!studies! Thousands and thousands of years havepassed him right by, and there he is – Stanley Kowalski – survivor of the StoneAge! Bearing the raw meat home from the kill in the jungle! (act 1 scene 9pg. 119). Despite the fact that there is a lot of truth in Blanche’s words shedeceives herself by her drinking and her need to feel ‘wanted by men’.
Sheblames 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 tohide it. Although she appears the opposite of Stanley they both share the samecharacteristics. They both are very lustful, they both drink a lot, and they areboth very competitive toward each other. They are both savages raised indifferent worlds.
William’s character Stella seems to set the standard for thecivilized person, but at a closer look Stella may be just as guilty of savageryas Stanley and Blanche. The humble Stella has ‘desires’ just like Blanche andStanley; she needs Stanley for his security and companionship, she likes to feeloverpowered 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 toStanley after being struck by him. Stella wakes up in the morning and everythingis back to normal after turning on the ‘colored lights’ with Stanley.
Once againwith Stella we see that she enjoys sex. At the end of the play she knows thather husband, Stanley, raped her sister but still decides to be with him. Shewants sex and she needs it. There are some things that happen between a manand a woman in the dark(Act 1, scene 8, pg 109) Stella is basically admittingthat her and Stanleys relationship is based around sex. Which is a veryanimal instinct. Stella, although does not say it, enjoys being domineered.
Sheneeds it. There is no doubt that Tennessee Williams believes ‘we are all savagesat heart. ‘ He seems to indirectly-attack the way in which society makes peoplethink and act towards the more untamed desire, guilt, spiritual torment, andrepressed sexuality. In the play every one has certain basic animal instinctsand all of our characteristics can be drawn back to that. He seems to base mostrelationships on sex, which is the most natural, act that humans and all otheranimals can do.
All three of these characters have the same personalities inmany ways. Blanche hides her real emotions and her savageness, WhileStanley does the opposite and does not hide it enough. He lets all of the cardsout on the table. And Stella I believe is the most intriguing character of themall.
She grew up with Blanche and knows that life style but Stanley has shownher his world and she is mixed up in between the two. She is like a ping pongball. And ultimately Stanley wins the game, by her love for lust. All of thesecharacters can be compared to their primate species, and Williams reveals it inthis play.