Gender Roles in a Streetcar Named Desire

1065 words 5 pages
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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Stanley violates Blanche in the most personal way and initiates the ultimate act of cruelty and abuse of power. His final act of brutality acts as the climax of power struggle between Stanley and Blanche as well as all males and females. This leaves the male empowered and the female lowered and completely destroyed.
Blanch Dubois’ empowerment comes purely from her class. Her southern tradition and wealth made her a woman of importance and propriety. However, in Elysian Fields her traditions and former wealth hold significance. Although her wealth was lost with the death of Belle Reve, she desperately attempts to hold on to remains of her previous life and creates a fantasy world. Her ‘incongruous appearance’ and ‘southern tradition causes Stanley to reject her, as he cannot relate to her in anyway. The lack of impact on Stanley reflects the context of time, when tradition was being overpowered by industrialization. As Blanche begins to understand that her class has no impact on Stanley she assumes the role of a temptress. “I was flirting with your husband Stella!” In order to gain some form of authority, Blanche uses her sexuality and physicality in effort to control Stanley.
Blanche uses her sexuality frequently to overpower others. She ‘depended on the kindness of strangers’ regularly in Laurel and her use of physicality landed her in trouble on various


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