A Streetcar Named Desire Gender Roles

765 Words4 Pages
Eliza Penn
Gender roles in the mid-1900s held a prominent place in society because they defined an individual’s behavior and outlook. In A Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, two of the protagonists, Stanley and Blanche, strongly represent and embody the extremes of masculinity and femininity. Stanley exemplifies the strong and aggressive male in the 1900s, while Blanche represents the frail and superficial woman. When these two types of characters are placed in close proximity to one another, the results can be devastating. Tennessee Williams wrote this play in order to demonstrate what happens when Blanche, a feminine woman, and Stanley, a masculine man, are brought into conflict; when these extremes clash, it can result in violence and the shattering of an individual’s defense system.
Violence is a result of the clashing of Stanley and
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This overall outcome is caused by a series of events building on each other. Both Stanley and Blanche embody their specific gender roles at the time. In the mid-1900s, masculinity meant control, aggression, physical dominance, and even violence. Complementing these traits is a typical absence of manners, refinement, and sensitivity. One point of view voiced in the play is that this sort of physical masculinity is sub-human and primitive; another is that it is sexually attractive and appealing. To Blanche, Stanley originally comes off as appealing however once he rapes her, he becomes monstrous in her eyes. On the contrary, Blanche is not exactly humane as well. Blanche is the extreme version of how a female was represented in the mid-1900s, but takes crazy too far. As opposed to helping Blanche deal with the world, her fantasizing is more destructive then helpful. Stanley’s violent rape of Blanche is a wake up call from her fantasy life, the final straw in her mental decline, leading to her

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