A Streetcar Named Desire

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How does Williams portray the character of Stanley and his attitudes? In your answer you should consider Williams’ use of language choices and dramatic techniques

Stanley is the primary male character in A Streetcar Named Desire. His dominating role encompasses the cultural values of Elysian Fields, where men are breadwinners and women are the homemakers. On first appearance Stanley is portrayed as a physically attractive man and dominating attitude towards his wife. He is he is a proud ‘American’ and dislikes people who think they are superior to him. Behind the uneducated and almost degenerate-like behaviour of Stanley, the audience see his manipulative side and determination to break Blanche’s spirits.

The first appearance of Stanley is when he and his friends are coming back from bowling one night. He is carrying a “red stained package from the butchers”, this gives the image that Stanley is dirty and untidy man possibly even a caveman bring home the meat to his wife. The audience can begin to build a picture of who Stanley is by his apparel, he is “roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes” suggesting that he is employed in a low skilled labour-intensive job, not a comfortable office role, this adds to the untidy and ruthless image of him. The stage directions show he is physically attractive “medium height, about five feet eight or nine, strongly, compactly built” the asyndentic description is not dressed in abstract adjectives but it is to the point and factual. The straightforwardness quality about this description hints that Stanley is a man of few words and ‘what you get is what you see with him’.

Williams’ explores Stanley’s appearance particularly when the character “rips off his shirt” and changes to a “brilliant bowling shirt”. The alliteration in this phrase emphasises how much of a wonderful piece of clothing it is, the image of a peacock showing off its feathers is painted in the audiences mind because him replacing his shirt with a ‘brilliant’ one. The dramatic technique of Stanley ripping his shirt off allows the audience to see his well built physique as well, effectively seeing the “animal joy in his being”.

His masculine image is illustrated furthermore when he aggressively and very abruptly “throws the screen door open” and the description of what he looks for in a partner, “sizes up women…with sexual classifications”. He does not care much about personality and intelligence but rather beauty and obedience, this adds to the cavemen like portrayal of him. Stella is “thrilled by” Stanley’s masculinity; she enjoys his empowering and sexual presence. Stanley finds attracting Stella very satisfying as he believes he has the power to attract women from higher social lasses and bring them to ‘his level’.

He forces his attitudes and way of living on to Stella for instance it is almost the social norm for the men to get drunk on the ‘poker nights’. He does not like the women disrupting his game. This point is highlighted when Stanley uses an imperative “You hens cut out the conversation in there!” the noun ‘hen’ demeans the women in the play. Stanley’s attitude is that women only exist to give birth and to produce eggs (cook food). The animal itself is quite weak and the noises it makes can be quite annoying, this hints on how feeble the women are and how Stanley finds them annoying when they talk too much.

The use of imperatives and interrogatives directed at his wife suggest he is the dominating person in their relationships. In Scene Eight Stanley is outraged when Stella calls him a disgusting pig, he reacts with repeating the words they have called him. The hyphens used in “pig – Polack - disgusting – vulgar – greasy!” with the added exclamation mark suggest that he is becoming angrier by the second. The letter harsh sounding letter ‘g’ in most of the words puts emphasises how disdainful the words are. Williams is trying to steer the audience into thinking that Stanley very much dislikes...
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