Representation Of Women In A Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams

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In Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire”, we are introduced to a cast of characters that Williams describes as his “little company of the faded and the frightened, the difficult, the odd, the lonely” – and Williams’ exploration of how these adjectives influence the nature of the characters’ relationships. In Tennessee’s writing, these adjectives typically assume a position in a gender hierarchy, which handily lends “Streetcar” to be read from a feminist critical standpoint. The female empowerment movement realised the significance of the woman in literature, and demands one call into question the representation of female characters in media and how the feminine is typified through ‘a set of culturally defined characteristics’. In Williams’ …show more content…
Whilst the ideal of marrying a man and living happily ever after is echoed in both of the DuBois sisters and both seemed to marry for love, the men they ended up marrying did not assist them or result in a mutually beneficial relationship, but instead both men shaped the lives of their wives to their own ways of living. Stella can “hardly stand it when [Stanley] is away for a night”, implying a form of sexual dependence on Stella’s part on her husband, who represents the typically masculine, if so masculine it treads into the animalistic. This dependence of Stella on the aggressive sexuality of her husband exemplifies her refusal to acknowledge her status in the relationship, as the marriage being “something [she] wants to get out of”, to be married to an implied rapist – one who rapes even her own sister. Further, it is perhaps the dependence of Stella on the social roles of the time that she stays with Stanley, despite it all, so as not to end up in the same state as her sister – “neurotic” and committed to a mental hospital. Depending “on the kindness of strangers”, because, due to a lack of status and adherence to gender roles, this dirtied kindness is perhaps all Blanche is able to garner. This fear of Stella would resonate with the contemporary audience, due to the strength of social roles at the time – and the fact that Stella simply must adhere to one of the pre-sets, at risk of becoming a “wreck”, much like her sister. This dependence on values is very powerful in the South, and Williams, in the process of ignoring larger political messages in his writing, describes the suffering of the everyman (or everywoman) under these – as a gay man, perhaps personifying himself in the outcast and alienated Blanche DuBois, or Stella Kowalski, forced into the position of the wife and mother (or the masculine equivalent) in order to be

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