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Streetcar Named Desire - Character Analysis

  • Date Submitted: 02/24/2014 01:22 PM
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Colin Ma
Candace Waid
English 10
28 May 2013
Character Analysis in A Streetcar Named Desire:
Tennessee William's Comparison of American Societies
Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire is a play concerning Stanley and Stella Kowalski, and Stella's sister Blanche Dubois. Stella and Stanley are a happily married couple who live in New Orleans. However, once Stella's sister Blanche comes to stay with them she   “spoils the routine of their everyday life.” (Cengage 9) and changes the dynamics of the couple's relationship. The cause behind this tension is what Williams has each of these three characters represent. Their relationship is symbolic of Williams' view of America when he wrote the play in the 1940's. At the time America was undergoing a big transition because of World War II causing many societal changes. This play reflects his view on the the different societies at the time in America by focusing on the clash between two very different worlds- an increasing corporate America which represents the literal post World War II and the figurative old South which is a pre-World War II metaphor. Williams highlights this adversarial relationship by having each of the three main characters representing something different about America in the 1940's.   Williams   represents Blanche as a symbol of the traditional South because of her use of deception since she lacks the inability to adapt to change, Stanley as a symbol of a progressing America because of his raw instincts and desire for the brutal truth,   and Stella as an intermediary figure who is, more often than not, caught between Blanche and Stanley, because   her conflicted views are a product from her upbringing in the South with Blanche and the life she now leads in a more modern America with Stanley.
While most of the tension lies with Stanley and Blanche, this tension directly affects Stella. Because Stella is a figure of both worlds Charles Isherwood argues, “As Stella’s divided loyalties...

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