A Streetcar Named Desire as a Southern Gothic

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Brianna D’Itri
Mrs. Bixler
A. P. English 12
11 February 2013
Title
The ‘Southern Gothic’ genre is captured greatly in Tennessee Williams’s novel A Streetcar Named Desire. By hyperbolizing the cast’s personalities, the story takes on an eerie quality.
Our introduction to the cast begins with Blanche, arguably the most off-putting of all the personalities presented. Blanche comes to New Orleans on the brink of insanity only to see that her sister, once the perfect southern belle just like Blanche, has moved away from that antiquated way of life and into the up and coming, industrialized world of gruff immigrants and compromised living space. The weather beaten belle does not adapt as well as her sister does, however. She immediately contradicts her ladylike air by downing whiskey. Blanche holds herself as a well-off young woman when her wardrobe is comprised of last season’s ensembles and costume jewelry. The over-all juxtaposition of Blanche’s idealized image of herself versus what she really is versus the environment she is introduced into creates an overall feeling of unease. That juxtaposition comes with painfully coquettish dialogue with her brother-in-law, adding to the strangeness of the situation.

Unlike her sister, Stella is not in a tragic state of denial. Stella understands how the new world is and how she must change her views and standards in order to not become a frazzled window into the past, like Blanche. Stella is the kind of women that is “excited” by violence and allows herself to be abused by her husband because the thrill of testosterone and roughness is such a change from her conservative southern roots. Stella’s adaption to the huge changes in her life brushing up against Blanche’s sad attempts at keeping her outdated lifestyle creates tension in the way of tears and, on Blanche’s part, in step lower into insanity.

And then there is Stanley, the man of the house. Williams made Stan into a caricature of a young, gruff immigrant....
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