Gender Roles : A Streetcar Named Desire

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Streetcar Named Desire
The strong emphasis on the contrast between gender roles, specifically masculinity compared to femininity, is essential to the message portrayed in Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire. This 20th century work acts as a critique on the post war treatment of women and the dependent relationship between women and men. Williams pushed the gendered characteristics of his character to the extreme and the relationship between Stella, Blanche, and Stanley represents all aspects of the disparity between the masculine and feminine aspects of society. In the nineteen fifties men dominated over women and this is demonstrated through Stanley’s brute and aggressive attitude. Blanche and Stella are both defined through their relationship with men however portray different ideas of how women should act. The way that Tennessee Williams constructed his characters represents the truth of societies attitudes towards masculinity and femininity during this time period. Stanley, the protagonist of A Streetcar Named Desire, was constructed by Williams to represent the stereotypical male during this time in American history. Stanley is aggressive, brute, almost animalistic, and lacking in any sense of insight or sensitivity, yet somehow he is also portrayed as being an upright citizen. We are originally introduced to his character with a playful charm as well as learning that he once served as “A Master Sergeant in the Engineers Corps. Those are decorations!”(1122).
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