Gender Roles in a Streetcar Named Desire Essay

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Gender Roles in A Streetcar Named Desire

Throughout history empowerment and marginalization has primarily been based on gender. In the play A Streetcar Named Desire, this idea of empowerment is strongly flaunted. Tennessee Williams’ characters, primarily Stanley, Blanche, Mitch, and Stella, conform the expected roles of men and women at the time. Although World War Two temporarily allowed women a place in the work force, they were dismissed from such empowerment when the war came to a close. Characters in A Streetcar Named Desire are accurate representations of the social historical context of that time. The power struggle between Stanley and Blanche conveys dominant ideas about gender such as the primitive nature, aggression, and
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In addition to segregation, dominance is seen once again when Stanley is unable to prevent Mitch’s desertion of the game. His violent outbursts are desperate attempts to exert his dominance. “Stanley gives a loud whack of his hand on her thigh.” it becomes apparent that his threatening words are not enough, and he begins using violence as a physical means of controlling Stella and frightening Blanche.
Although Stanley’s power works mainly to downgrade Blanche, his violent and aggressive nature also disempowers Stella. She is abused during poker night, a moment of masculine bonding. Following the poker night she is made powerful when she retreats to Eunice’s Flat. However, she returns to disempowerment when she leaves Eunice’s flat and Stanley ‘bears her into the dark flat’. Stella’s decision to stay with Stanley is not based on choice, but rather on the fact that she must. This enforces the dominant belief that women are unable to support themselves, emotionally and financially.
Similar to Stanley, Blanche also faces a power struggle. Her ultimate downfall is a result of Stanley’s cruelty and lack of understanding for human fragility. Comments about Stanley’s ‘animal habits’ and ‘sub-human’ nature act as the agent of Blanche’s downfall. Stanley cannot deal with her mocking him in his own home and is fed up with her lies. During the final scenes his
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