Explore the Similarities and Differences in the Presentation of Female Characters in a Streetcar Named Desire and the World’s Wife

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Explore the similarities and differences in the presentation of female characters in A Streetcar Named Desire and The World’s wife In this essay, I will be exploring the similarities and differences of female characters in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams; and ‘The World’s Wife’ by Carol Ann Duffy. Both texts denote women as somewhat weak and incompetent and as having a predatory attitude towards the mainly dominant male characters. A Streetcar Named Desire was written in 1945 and it initially connected with America’s new found taste for realism following the Great Depression and World War II. William’s based the character of Blanche on his sister who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Williams himself was homosexual, and incorporated this trait into the character of Blanche’s husband. Homosexuality was regarded as disgraceful during this time in America. The World’s Wife is an anthology of poems which takes stories that were previously focused on men and reverses the roles to focus on women. There are many references to childbirth, children and feelings towards men, which could have been influenced by Duffy’s own experiences, especially her relationship with Adrian Henri who was twenty three years her senior. There are many different critical approaches to both texts, for example the feminist literary criticism. Feminists could criticize that in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, Stella and Eunice’s relationship with their husbands conform to a stereotype of repressed women. This is similar to ‘Mrs Quasimodo’, where she herself is the devoted wife, concentrating on the happiness of her husband while he looks at her with a ‘discontented eye.’ Another criticism is the psychoanalytic criticism. One could argue that in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, Blanche is hiding the suicide of her husband in her unconscious which results in her acting in such an irrational manner. ‘I want to be near you, got to be with somebody, I can't be alone!’ The reader is able to detect her vulnerability as a result of her past experiences. This is unlike the poem ‘Anne Hathaway’ where her feelings towards Shakespeare are put forward entirely. However a feminist may criticize that Anne Hathaway is also a repressed woman, and a victim of her own delusions. Another criticism is the Marxist literary criticism. A Marxist may argue that the hostility between Blanche and Stanley is caused by their class difference. Blanche is from an upper class background whereas Stanley is from a working class background. ‘Look at these feathers and furs that she come here to preen herself in.’ Stanley is certain that Blanche is using the money from the plantation to buy herself things which adds to his resentment. A Marxist theory would be that the lower class is exploited; however in this case Blanche who is considered to be of the upper class is exploited by Stanley due to the rape. Williams may be trying to show that no matter what class the woman is, the male will remain as the domineering sex. This is unlike ‘Mrs Beast’ however. In this poem, the female is educated and civilized and has power over the male. ‘The Beast fell to his knees at my door to kiss my glove with his mongrel lips.’ Duffy is showing that Mrs Beast is not a victim of patriarchy, and is an independent woman. In both texts, women are given roles as wives and girlfriends however in some cases traditional roles are rejected. For example in ‘Little Red Cap’, the girl is not looking for a long term relationship with the wolf but simply the opportunity to release herself from child hood. ‘The wolf I knew would lead me deep into the woods.’ This is similar to Blanche in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ who is looking for temporary release from her life when having sex with soldiers. Stella has the role of the loving wife, who cares for her husband and is willing to put up with his behaviour in order to adhere to what was accepted of the society in which Stanley and she lived. This is similar to ‘Mrs...
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