Misogny in a Street Car Named Desire

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Women and Misogyny and Fatalism in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire Tennessee Williams wrote this critically acclaimed play during the 20th century when women and their place in society were greatly challenged. According to Boydston (2004) men were breadwinners and women resided in the home where they would raise children and maintain the home. As protector of the home, women exhibited characteristics such as piety, purity and domesticity. The notion of women entering the workforce, she continued, threatened the ideals of true womanhood and masculinity. In other words the woman’s foray into the man’s sphere violated the separation of roles between men and women because the ‘public sphere’ was reserved for men. It is this ideology that forms the basis for the misogynistic and fatalistic view of women in the play. Fatalism as defined by Abrams (2005) is the belief that all events are predetermined and are; therefore, inevitable. As a consequence, a submissive attitude to events results from such a belief. Through characterization and the choice of dramatic genre, The Streetcar Named Desire exposes the deleterious effects of misogyny on women and the dominance that men wield over subservient powerless women. The characterization of the dominant characters in the play develops the idea of misogyny and fatalism. Stanley the male dominant in the play is seen as an alpha male. True to the custom of Williams’ characterization of men from the North, Stanley is cast as a ‘brutish’ character who ‘sizes women up at a glance with sexual classifications’. Stanley does not regard women as being valuable apart from their worth in slaking his sexual desires. Stanley believes that women exist to serve his needs, respect him and obey him without question. This is in keeping with the era in which the play was written and the fact that men were seen as the stronger of the sexes. His language and behaviour are laden with vulgar sexual overtones. Stanley Kowalski...
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