A StreetCar Named Desire
Hence, blacks mingle with whites, and members of different ethnic groups play poker and bowl together. Stanley, the son of Polish immigrants, represents the changing face of America. Williams’s romanticizing is more evident in his portrayal of New Orleans as a city where upper-class people marry members of the lower class, fghts get ugly but are forgotten the next day, and the perpetual bluesy notes of an old piano take the sting out of poverty. The play immediately establishes Stanley and Blanche as polar opposites, with Stella as the link between them.
Stage directions describe Stanley as a virulent character whose chief pleasure is women. His dismissal of Blanche’s beauty is therefore significant, ecause it shows that she does not exude his same brand of carnal desire. On the other hand, Blanche’s delicate manners and sense of propriety are offended by Stanleys brutish virility. Stanleys qualities”variously described as vitality, heartiness, brutality, primitivism, lust for life, animalistic”lead him over the course of the play into an unrelenting, unthinking assault on the already crumbling facade of Blanche’s world.
Blanche comes across as a frivolous, hysterical, insensitive, and self- obsessed individual as she derides her sister’s lesser social status and doesn’t xpress Joy at seeing Stella so in love. Blanche, who arrives in New Orleans having lost Belle Reve and having been forced to leave her Job, exudes vulnerability and emotional frailty. Stanleys cocky interactions with Blanche show him to be insensitive ”he barely lets Blanche get a word in edgewise as he quickly assesses her beauty.
Nevertheless, in this introduction, the audience is likely to sympathize with Stanley rather than Blanche, for Blanche behaves superficially and haughtily, while Stanley comes across as unpretentious, a social being with a zest for life. Stanleys entrance ith a package of meat underscores his primitive qualities. It is as if he were bringing it back to his cave fresh from the kill. His entrance also underscores the intense sexual bond between him and Stella, which is apparent to the other characters as well. Stanley yells “Catch! as he tosses the package, and a moment later the Negro woman yells “Catch what! ” Eunice and the Negro woman see something sexual, and scandalously hilarious, in Stanleys act of tossing the meat to a breathlessly delighted Stella. The name of the Kowalskis’ street underscores the extreme, opposing rchetypes that Stanley and Blanche represent. Elysian Fields is the name for the ancient Greek version of the afterlife. Stanley, the primitive, pagan reveller who is in touch with his vital core, is at home in the Elysian Fields, but the Kowalski’s’ home and neighbourhood clearly are not Blanche’s idea of heaven.
Blanche represents a society that has become too detached from its animal element. She is distinctly over civilized and has repressed her vitality and her sexuality. Blanche’s health and her sanity are Scene 2 Scene Two starts to move our sympathies away from Stanley as the more malignant spects of his character start to surface. Whereas Scene One stresses the sexual attraction that drew Stella and Stanley to one another despite class differences, Scene Two shows Stanley acting disrespectful to Stella and antagonistic to her sister.
Meanwhile, our compassion for Blanche increases as Williams reveals Just how destitute she is by showing that all of her belongings in the world amount to a trunk full of gaudy dresses and cheap Jewellery. In one sense, Stanley and Blanche are fighting for Stella”each would like to pull Stella beyond the reach of the other. But their opposition is also more elemental. They are incompatible forces, manners versus manhood”and peace between them is no more than a temporary cease-fire. Blanche represents the Old South’s intellectual romanticism and dedication to appearances.
Stanley represents the New South’s ruthless pursuit of success and – economic pragmatism. When Stanley confronts Blanche after her bath, she shows that she understands the nature of their clash when she tells him that Stella doesn’t understand him as well as she does. Calling upon the Napoleonic code enables Stanley to Justify his feelings of entitlement toward Stella’s inheritance. In doing so, he shows that he is ignorant of legal technicalities, because Belle Reve, located in Laurel, Mississippi, wouldn’t fall under New Orleans Jurisdiction.
However, Stanleys repeated references to the Napoleonic code highlight the fact that his conflict with Blanche is also a gender showdown. Stanleys greed reveals his misogyny, or woman- hating tendencies. As a man, Stanley feels that what Stella has belongs to him. He also hates Blanche as a woman and as a person with a more prestigious family name, and therefore suspects that Blanche’s business dealings have been dishonest. Blanche takes the first of many baths in this scene. She claims that steaming hot baths are necessary to calm her nerves, a believable excuse given her constant hysteria.
Yet Blanche’s constant need to wash her body symbolizes her need for emotional, spiritual, and mental cleansing. Her bathing foreshadows the eventual revelation of her sordid past. She desires to rid herself of her social blemishes and start over after leaving Laurel. Two mysteries from Scene One are solved in Scene Two. Blanche reveals the “boy’ she spoke of at the end of Scene One to be her usband. She tells Stanley that she hurt her husband the way that Stanley would like to hurt her, warning him that his goal is impossible, since she is “not young and vulnerable anymore. Blanche knew her husband’s weakness and unfeelingly used that weakness to destroy him. Yet she is naive to think that Stanley won’t be able to do the same thing to her. She would like to believe that her age and experience protect her against Stanleys callous assaults, but Stanley recognizes Blanche’s essential weakness. Also, Stella’s revelation to the audience that she is pregnant when she asks Stanley not to mention her pregnancy to Blanche) explains Blanche’s remark about Stella’s weight gain, and Stella’s refusal to discuss her weight gain with her sister.