A Streetcar Named Desire: Gender-Based Performances

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Performing genders in Tennesse Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire, considered as one of his most famous works, exposes the relationships between Stella and her sister, Blanche, who has come to visit her. Her arrival reveals the tensions in Stanley and Stella's couple. Blanche quickly discovers that her sister's life is not at all the life she believed it to be, and that her sister lives with a violent man, Stanley. But Stanley is not the only one who tries to hide his true identity. Indeed, Blanche's arrival in New Orleans is not innocent. She tries to escape her bad reputation and comes with her deepest secrets. In this play, the protagonists perform a role to affirm their gender and hide their real true nature. This staging also aims at dramatizing the action of the play. Stella's husband, Stanley, is the prefect representation of the violent and macho man. He does everything to be seen as a powerful man when citing Huey Long he tells Stella that ''every Man is a King! And I am the king around here'' (Williams, 77). As Koprince notes: Like most batterers, Stanley believes in male superiority… [He] especially believes in male dominance within the institution of marriage. He is completely in charge of the Kowalski household, calling all the shots and expecting his wife's acquiescence. (51) Stanley establishes a conjugal life in which his wife is not allowed to say what she wants as he growls: ''don't ever talk that way to me!'' (77). However, Stanley is not only arrogant when he speaks to his wife, he also mistreats her. During the Poker Night, he first ''crosses to the small white radio and snatches it off the table. With a shouted oath, he tosses the instrument out of the window'' and then ''charges Stella'' (35). Stanley thus intimidates his wife and decreases her as Dutton analyses:

Physical assault may be accompanied by verbal abuse, psychological abuse… This constellation of destructive actions more...
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