7 March 2012
Textual Analysis of A Streetcar Named Desire
Based on Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire, Elia Kazan creates an award winning movie that helps readers visualize Stanley’s primal masculinity, the inner torments of the Kowalski women and the clash of the other characters’ problems which create a chaotic mess. Using stage directions in the play, William hints that Blanche is not who she appears to be while the movie subtly sheds light on Blanche’s strange little habits that suggests a bigger issue. The movie also censors many of the main themes in Williams’ play but makes up for it by having its actors flawlessly portray the ...view middle of the document...
The difference between the movie and the play is that in the play Stella doesn’t have to avidly seek a man and that she is still immersed in her fantasy world: one where she believes Stanley is loving and innocent of raping Blanche. By showing his readers the downfall of depending on men, Tennessee Williams is sending out a clear message to women to stand up for themselves and to be independent. In contrast, the movie supports independence by having Stella stand up for her newborn baby and herself by leaving Stanley. Why the stark difference you ask? Back in the 1950s, the rape scene was considered controversial and taboo so the director Elia Kazan was forced to punish Stanley by having his wife leave him at the end of the film. Even the slight suggestion of a rape scene necessitated Stanley’s punishment. Realistically, Stella would’ve stayed with Stanley because she had no support for herself or the baby.
Blanche’s and Stella’s reliance on men and inability to support themselves are used to illustrate the subliminal pressure for women to follow society’s norms. Women without men are seen as weak, and those who break away from their rigid social classes are looked down upon. Since these social norms have been instilled into Blanche, she believes that she has to have a man fawn over her feet at all times. She realizes that she is aging and thus by engaging in sexual trysts with men, she thinks that she is still wanted and that she still has a place in society despite her current status. “After the death of Allan - intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with...panic, that drove me from one to another, hunting for some protection.” (Williams, pg 146).
William captures the problem of distressed women in our society through the portrayal of the rape scene between Stanley and Blanche. The scene exemplifies the power struggle between the two and is a representation of the society. No matter how hard she tries, she will always lose to men. Just like no matter how much women try, it will always be a male dominated world. In the movie, the rape scene is complemented with a dramatic soundtrack and dim lights that foreshadow what will happen. Blanche’s ruin is artistically depicted through the reflection of the mirror.
Stanley is characterized as a manly character with temper issues and is constantly shown to explode in anger at Stella and Blanche whenever they step out of line. Part of this anger stems from his desire to maintain his idea of masculinity. His wife had always been obedient and under his control, but the minute this new woman comes in, he loses control of his Stella. He obviously feels threatened by her higher social class, otherwise he wouldn’t have felt the need to rape Blanche and regain alpha status in his household. A symbol of Stanley’s brutishness is shown when he walks into the house with his sweat stained shirt and proceeds to change in front of Blanche despite the fact that she was a guest. Back in...