A Streetcar Named Desire Gender Roles

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Gender roles are a central theme and are seen in multiple arrays in both Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Walker’s The Color Purple. Gender has been a central concern throughout history, with females being seen as the “second sex” (Simone de Beauvoir), due to societal views being submissive and weak, with men being the more dominant sex. This societal view of each gender determines their role in society, therefore their role in the relationship. In Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche does not fit into her role in society, therefore breaking the relationship dynamics set by society. Whilst Walker’s The Color Purple looks at how gender roles have been grounded into society and the struggles they have.

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Throughout the play, Stella seems to “enjoy waiting on” and serving Blanche. Using the verb “waiting” gives Blanche the princess status making Stella seem like a servant to Blanche. Stella may have grown up in the same “circumstances” as Blanche, but she has become a modern woman. This is due to Blanche’s inability to give up the ‘southern belle’ archetype she upholds. Williams may have done this as his mother was a ‘southern belle’ and he wanted to show, that way of life would not work in the modern world. Stella and Blanche’s relationship can be likened to servant and master. Stella cannot see the wrongdoings of Blanche, and only see her as pure and innocent. When Stanley confronts Stella, she dismisses and denies him stating that “It’s a pure invention! There not a word of truth in it”. Stella's use of the adjective “pure” shows this idea of Blanche being promiscuous, it also could suggest Stella still sees Blanche as “pure” and innocent, no matter what Blanche does. Like a servant, she is obedient and subservient, and she does what her superior tells her to do. Although Blanche is “5 years older” than Stella, she sees her as the older sister, due to Stella’s protection over Blanche, even telling her husband that Blanche grew up “in different circumstances” from him. Blanche grew up in a world where everything was handed to her, and people bowed down to her as well, as Stella does now. She lives in a world with “magic,” where she can uphold her status as a woman, and she uses her femininity to control her situation and “circumstances”. Both Williams’s play and Walkers epistolary, show what different sibling relationships look like, in A Streetcar Named Desire, we see a relationship which is similar to a servant and master, Whilst Walkers shows a sibling relationship where it is

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