Gender Stereotypes In A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams

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The theme of gender and relationships is one that is explored in great detail in A Streetcar Named Desire, mainly between Blanche and Stanley. Both characters are portrayed by Williams as being the ultimate extreme stereotypes of their respective genders, Blanche being dainty, sweet-natured, and fragile, and Stanley being bulky, aggressive, and sturdy. The power play between these two stereotypes is shown in great detail in this extract, both of them shows to have some element of power.
To begin with, the audience immediately gets a sense of the gender divide that’s represented a lot in the play when Stanley and Stella are arguing at the start of the scene. With Stanley’s line “Since when do you give me orders?”, we know automatically that
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This can be seen as a way to flirt with Stanley, something that she freely admits to Stella later that she had been doing, revealing another element of the ‘typical female’ – wanting to please a male. This can also be seen as Blanche perhaps showing a belief that, because of her gender, she is weaker and inferior to him – an idea that would’ve been emphasized in her home life as a Southern belle. This sense of inferiority is seen again when they’re talking about what a woman would have to do to get in Stanley’s good graces. Blanche implies that in a situation like that, Stanley would have all the power, and would be able to choose whether or not he wanted to give his attention to a woman, rather than giving her some power as well. Williams’ choice of words by saying a woman would “have to” continues to imply that Stanley is the epitome of a man, and that he wouldn’t have to work had at all to gain the attention of a woman, that a woman would be more than happy to bend over backwards for his attention. Stanley’s response with “Lay… her cards on the table” momentary implies that she would have to sleep with him for his interest, and although he does continue to state what he really …show more content…
When Stella goes outside at the start of the extract, leaving Blanche and Stanley alone together, there is a sense of Stanley feeling weary and maybe even slightly overwhelmed by Blanche’s forward attitude, especially when she asks him to up her buttons. In terms of proxemics, this image of Stanley approaching Blanche’s back to do up her buttons gives off the impression of being like a predator stalking its prey, perhaps foreshadowing for when he rapes her in scene ten. Stanley’s “smouldering look” towards her can emphasize his frustration towards her, as well as a sense of passion, again foreshadowing his attack on her in scene ten. There’s a sense of the ‘femme fatale’ around Blanche of this scene, especially in her line “I cannot imagine any witch of a woman casting a spell over you”, as the audience has already gotten the impression that she has cast a spell over him, and that is the reason why he’s unable to be civil around her. The dialogue itself shows elements of the politeness strategy, letting each person finish before continuing, with very little interruption, which shows a sort of fake equality between the two of them. Additionally, the fact that Williams chose to have Stanley ask her to “cut to the re-bop” at the end, rather than earlier, can show him being enticed by her, which is something that gives her

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