Violence And Power In A Streetcar Named Desire

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The themes of violence and power in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ hold an important role in the criticism of 1940s American society. Conflicts perpetuated by violence and power, such as abusive relationships and violent oppression are projected through the characters within the play. Williams uses these conflicts to highlight his criticisms of faltering values and social norms, from the perspective of an individual constrained by the expectations of a strict, Southern society.

To begin with, there is an indefinite violence between men and women within ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Stanley Kowalski, a focal character, is the epitome of male dominance and primitive aggression. He is verbally and physically abusive towards his wife, Stella, in order to establish his power over her. He is described as giving a ‘loud whack of his hand on her thigh’ to which she merely retaliates ‘That’s not fun, Stanley.’ Whilst ‘the men laugh’. This shows how abusive behaviour towards women is normalised and accepted within this patriarchal society as the men simply choose to ‘laugh’ along with Stanley. It also highlights Stella’s submissive nature, and how she conforms to the sexist societal expectations of a helpless and fragile woman. Although the surrounding male characters disregard Stanley’s abuse, the audience is repulsed by it and identifies it as morally wrong. This shows how Williams is criticising the acceptance of this abusive behaviour in society, using Stella’s dilemma as a victim to plea for a change. Stanley is even abusive when displaying his …show more content…

This is most evident between the characters Stanley and Blanche. Stanley states ‘The Kowalskis and the Dubois have different notions.’ The diversity of their backgrounds is shown by their surnames; ‘Dubois’ represents a seemingly aristocratic, southern belle, whilst ‘Kowalski’ is reminiscent of a working-class minority, alien to

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