Comparing A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

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Comparing A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

In the game of life man is given the options to bluff, raise, or fold. He is dealt a hand created by the consequences of his choices or by outside forces beyond his control. It is a never ending cycle: choices made create more choices. Using diverse, complex characters simmering with passion and often a contradiction within themselves, Tennessee Williams examines the link of past and present created by man's choices in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."

Delicate Blanche, virile Stanley. Dynamic Maggie, impotent Brick. Williams' protagonists are distinctly different in temperament. In "A Streetcar Named Desire" Blanche exemplifies the stereotypical
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In contrast, Brick is cool and nonchalant. He "wears the charm of the defeated" to disguise his power. Power isn't always brute force. Sometimes refusing to make choices is powerful. Forcing other to make decisions and thus never shouldering the responsibility is a form of dominance. Brick proudly proclaims "Maggie laid down the law to me - said now or never, and so I married Maggie" (Williams, Cat 37). She has to accept a non-sexual marriage or she has to be the one decide to leave. In the end Maggie, wanting to sire an heir and secure her position in the family, forces Brick to make love to her. He doesn't fight her off, but accepts meekly. It seems as if he isn't making choice, but by surrendering he does not have to forgive Maggie or change the terms of their lifeless marriage. Brick, hiding his anger behind a wall of indifference, is powerless and powerful.

The characters are neither saintly nor villainous but rather a combination of both, often a contradiction within themselves. "Blanche DuBois is Williams' masterpiece of contradiction. The very name Blanche DuBois suggests her duality" (Cohn 46). She tells Mitch her name means "white woods. Like an orchard in spring" (Williams, Street 55) "But even her translation is a fantasy. Blanche is past her spring" and she no longer possesses the virtue associated with white (Cohn 46).
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