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Outsiders In A Streetcar Named Desire

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In literature, the presence the outsider can be traced from ancient Greek dramas to modern literature, from Medea to the Underground Man. Most of the literary works pertaining to the outsider focus on the conflict between the outsider and the insider, conflicts that arise from the Otherness of the outsider. For example, in Jane Eyre, the Otherness of the titular protagonist—her fiery spirit and her subverting idea of equality based on individual merits rather than social status—leads to her alienation and conflicts with the insider wherever she goes. However, Tennessee Williams, in A Streetcar Named Desire, explored a different dynamic—namely the conflict between two outsiders, Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois. In the domestic sphere…show more content…
Her Otherness and incongruity in the lower-middle class New Orleans neighbourhood are apparent from the moment she enters. At the beginning of the play, the inhabitants of Elysian Fields enjoy themselves in some earthly, bawdy activities. Eunice and the coloured woman are chatting “on the steps of the building” (3), making ribald jokes about Stanley’s “package” (4). Mitch and Stanley are going to the bowling club while Stella rushes to join them (4-5). Then Blanche, “daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, …, white gloves and hat” (5), the very image of a Southern gentlewoman, steps into the scene. Her image of a prim and proper Southern gentlewoman clashes with the down-to-earth, easy-going lifestyle of the lower middle class. Her incongruity as a refined Southern gentlewoman in an industrial, lower-middle class New Orleans neighbourhood marks her status as an outsider and contributes to her final…show more content…
Stanley is a blunt, practical, and animalistic man who has no patience for subtleties and refinement. His animalistic character shows the moment he meets Blanche, when he, moving with “animalistic joy” (24), “sizes” Blanche up with “sexual classifications” and “crude image” in his mind (25). Under his stare, Blanche draws “involuntarily back” (25), a movement that foreshadows their later conflict and her subsequent demise. His practical and straightforward side shows when he interrogates Blanche about the sale of Belle Reve to make sure that his wife is not swindled. His straightforward, practical nature makes him “boom” out of impatience (46) and demands Blanche to cut straight to the point when she tries to talk in an indirect, subtle manner as befit a Southern gentlewoman. In contrast, Blanche, besides conducting her conversation subtly and indirectly, also enjoys refinement such as “art, poetry, and music” (83). She shields the lamp with paper lanterns and sprays the house with perfume, both refinements intolerable to Stanley, who tears them down at the last
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