A Major Subject Or Theme Of Tennessee Williams' Plays Is Human Sexuality In Its Various Aspects. Discuss With Reference To A Streetcar Named Desire

2749 words - 11 pages

A Streetcar Named Desire conforms to the expectation that a major theme of Williams' plays is that of human sexuality. Various aspects of human sexuality are explored through the diversity and complexity of the characters. Whilst Stanley Kowalski epitomises masculinity through his primal strength and power, and the increasingly fragile Blanche DuBois attempts to cling to the feminine role of the Southern Belle, these are only aspects of their characters. The fact that their relationship is one of conflict, is representative of their worldviews. However, to reduce A Streetcar Named Desire to the level of mere 'battle of the sexes' would be too simplistic and does the play an injustice by ...view middle of the document...

From our earliest encounter with Blanche, we are made quickly aware of her preoccupation with 'appearance'. Initially this focuses on the appearance of Stella's home, "this horrible place" (120), which compares so negatively when contrasted with the ancestral home of Belle Reve. However, Blanche's real preoccupation soon becomes evident as she chides Stella for failing to say a word about her appearance (122):You see I still have that awful vanity about my looks even now that my looks are slipping! (123).The fact that she 'laughs nervously' whilst looking to Stella for 'reassurance' indicates Blanche's insecurity. All that has been familiar in Blanche's world has changed, and now that age is changing her personal appearance, her insecurities are heightened. However, the dialogue between the sisters evokes a sense of ritual wherein Blanche seeks approval and Stella responds "dutifully" (123) suggesting that Blanche's insecurities are deep rooted and precede the advent of age. As Stella instructs Stanley:...admire her dress and tell her she's looking wonderful. That's important with Blanche. Her little weakness! (132).This is a constant motif throughout the play and Blanche's 'little weakness' reflects the fact that her sense of self-identity needs constant bolstering, especially now that her youth has passed by. It also reinforces the notion of Blanche as adopting a role and the necessity, as with any act, for an audience, preferably a sympathetic one. For Blanche an audience is necessary to enable her to perpetuate her constructed self-image. Compliments and constant reassurance are required to maintain the role she has adopted; it is therefore necessary for her 'audience' to constantly appreciate her 'performance'.When considering Blanche's behaviour with others, we find that she is most desperate to impress her male audience, and it is at such times that she feels the need to rely heavily on her female sexuality. Indeed, the persona that she has adopted is aimed at attracting male attention rather than female sympathy. This becomes apparent through a conversation with Stella wherein Blanche describes her discussion with Stanley regarding the fate of Belle Reve:I feel a bit shaky, but I think I handled it nicely. I laughed and treated it all as a joke, called him a little boy and laughed - and flirted! Yes - I was flirting with your husband Stella! (141).Blanche seems unable, or at least unwilling, to disregard this persona when dealing with men. Such behaviour has become habitual, a fact that becomes increasingly obvious in her relationship with Mitch. After a date together, and despite the fact that Blanche did not enjoy the evening, she still behaves in a manner in which she believes she is obliged to do. As she explains:I was just obeying the law of nature...The one that says the lady must entertain the gentleman - or no dice! (175).Blanche certainly understands how to use her sexuality, but she is not driven by her sexuality in the sense of...

Other Papers Like A Major Subject Or Theme Of Tennessee Williams' Plays Is Human Sexuality In Its Various Aspects. Discuss With Reference To A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

919 words - 4 pages . Feminism Literary Criticism may be explained by Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire as it deals with the major theme of power, based on sexuality, economic dependence, and abuse. Men define women by their sexuality and women use their sexuality to get what they want. In A Streetcar Named Desire, it is evident that Blanche uses her sexuality to get around. When the young man comes by to collect for the Evening Star, Blanche has not a

A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

933 words - 4 pages In A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams focuses on the past and present to explore the themes of desire, reality and illusion. He uses these themes effectively by reflecting on his genuine love for the Deep South in the USA. In Williams’ world of the 1940s the Old South was a broken and damaged place but it still had charm. Women in the Old South were expected to be both passive and chaste as reflected in the characters of Blanche and

Soundeffects in a Streetcar Named Desire

1265 words - 6 pages eetcar Eilis Mc Colgan 27/11/2011 A Streetcar Named Desire Music and Sound Effects A Streetcar Named Desire is hugely dependant on the effects of music; the melody is interlinked with the stage directions, character speeches and the most dramatic scenes. i.e. music plays the role of a mood setter and as a source of characterization. There is two recurring pieces of music during the play, The Blue piano and the Varsouviana polka. The

Harsh Issues in A Streetcar Named Desire

911 words - 4 pages Harsh Issues in A Streetcar Named Desire           A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, is a play which deals with many harsh issues like spousal abuse, rape, and insanity. The play is mainly about Blanche and her sister Stella. Blanche arrives at her sisterÕs house after being fired from the school where she taught and after loosing the big family house. She says she is

Comparison and contrast of the ways of characterization used by the two playwrights in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" and Tennessee Williams' "Streetcar Named Desire"

535 words - 3 pages Both Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" and Tennessee Williams' "Streetcar Named Desire" extract has two characters in each scene. One of them is usually one of the main characters of the stories: Mr. Proctor in the Crucible extract and Blanche DuBois from the scene of Streetcar Named Desire. Both of them had a serious conversation with their partner. There are lot of stage directions in both therefore far more indirect characterization can be found

Secrets and Lies- a Streetcar Named Desire

1208 words - 5 pages Practice Essay: Secrets and Lies Wuzinaer Redili ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams is based on the Contemporary American Realism on postwar American society that is transitioning from the aristocratic Old South to the Industrialized New South. Realism exposes the brutality and ugly truth of the world people live in. Tennessee Williams reveals the inevitable existence of secrets and lies

A Streetcar Named Desire: Sympathy For Blanche

876 words - 4 pages The arts stir emotion in audiences. Whether it is hate or humor, compassion or confusion, passion or pity, an artist's goal is to construct a particular feeling in an individual. Tennessee Williams is no different. In A Streetcar Named Desire, the audience is confronted with a blend of many unique emotions, perhaps the strongest being sympathy. Blanch Dubois is presented as the sympathetic character in Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named

The Relationship Between Stella And Stanley In Scene 4 Of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

967 words - 4 pages she has just taken part in something holy.Blanche fails to see the magic in what to her seems an abusive and dangerous relationship, because she has never reconciled her identity with her own profound desire. The divide is too great between her aristocratic sense of self and the "animal" urges that have at times controlled her. Blanche herself invokes the streetcar named Desire as a metaphor of what she believes Stella feels. Stella throws the metaphor back at her: "Haven't you ever ridden on that streetcar?" Blanche's answer, "It brought me here," is truer than Stella knows.

Streetcar Named Desire

1163 words - 5 pages manner. And yet, we as readers still feel pity for Blanche; it is almost as if her faults make her more human, more sensitive, and less accountable for her actions. The examples I listed above were just a chip of what genius Tennessee fed into A Streetcar Named Desire. His words were not chosen with reckless abandon, rather each word is like a box that contains in its recesses a novel devoted to the implicit content of each character. Joseph

Streetcar Named Desire

823 words - 4 pages also plays another major role in Blanche’s life in reference to her dead husband, Allan Grey. There is irony when she describes that her love for Allan brought light to her life, in spite of his last name, and when she caught him with another man ‘the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again’. The paper lantern also hides the world from Blanche, as she doesn’t want to live with reality. Therefore, light revealing the

A Streetcar Named Desire- the Conflict Between Stanley and Blanche

1872 words - 8 pages Stanley now has, yet still has the paranoia about him that this attention may slip at any point. To conclude, the nature of the conflict between Stanley and Blanche has many variables; at times it is symbolic, other physical but more often than not it is a verbal conflict that shows the audience how Stanley deals with anyone who invades or threatens his authority over his wife and friends. Williams uses these techniques to create drama in the piece, adding tension and creating a more shocking climax.

Related Essays

Discuss How Class Conflict Is Represented In A Streetcar Named Desire. (A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams)

1299 words - 6 pages language (dialogue) of the characters, symbolic use of names, animal imagery and colour (clothes) and the ideas of cultural capital help to define what the lower and upper classes are.A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams was written in 1947. The story takes place in New Orleans, and can be read as being during any year between May and September. The story revolves around Blanche Dubois and her conflict with Stanley Kowalski. Blanche's

A Streetcar Named Desire, By Tennessee Williams

1516 words - 7 pages A Streetcar Named Desire In Tennesse Williams' play, "A Streetcar Named Desire" the readers are introduced to a character named Blanche DuBois. In the plot, Blanche is Stella's younger sister who has come to visit Stella and her husband Stanley in New Orleans. After their first meeting Stanley develops a strong dislike for Blanche and everything associated with her. Among the things Stanley dislikes about Blanche are her "spoiled-girl

A Streetcar Named Desire, By Tennessee Williams

677 words - 3 pages Analysis of A Streetcar Named Desire Every person in this world feels the necessity of been loved at least one time in their life. Blanche feels this necessity and she tried to make herself loved but she has failed. Blanche arrives in New Orleans in a streetcar with only one desire; to find someone who would love her. Her sister, Stella, was her only family member left; and Blanche goes to her in order to find a solution for her problems

"A Streetcar Named Desire" By Tennessee Williams. A Reaction, Assessment Of Literary Value, Biography Of The Author, And Literary Critism

3102 words - 13 pages with.One other critical view on A Streetcar Named Desire, that of Alvin B. Kernan, deals with Williams's interpretation of reality within the play. The theme of reality vs. fantasy is one that the play centers around. In 'Truth and Dramatic Mode in A Streetcar Named Desire,' Kernan says:'In each of his plays, Williams poises the human need for belief in human value and dignity against a brutal, naturalistic reality; similarly, symbolism is poised