A Conflict as a Poker Game
In the early twentieth century, women were still dependent on men. It was difficult for a woman to have a job and be financially independent. In addition, at this time, women had to keep their virginity to have a chance to get married. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is placed in the picturesque French Quarter in New Orleans. The play starts when Blanche DuBois comes in New Orleans to visit her sister Stella after she lost the family plantation Belle-Reve because of money problems. She then meets her brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski, a World War II veteran. As soon as they meet each other, a mistrustful rivalry starts between them. A Streetcar Named Desire depicts the conflict between two opposing views as a poker game between Blanche and Stanley for control. From the beginning of the play, Williams starts distinguishing Stanley and Blanche by their mentalities. In fact, Blanche has the Old South mentality. She grew up in a plantation where she learnt how to behave as an aristocrat whereas her brother-in-law is an industrial and a Polish immigrant representing the New South. Blanche is described as delicate and fragile whereas Stanley is rude and violent. Blanche lives in a world of illusion. She acts as a queen and wants the men to treat her like it. Unlike Blanche, Stanley lives in a rude world, a world where if a person are strong enough physically and mentally, he or she can succeed. In addition, Williams opposes Stanley and Blanche by their description. First of all, he opposes their names. While Blanche means “white” in French and seems to represent innocence, Kowalski means “blacksmith” and represents the rudeness, the violence, and the primitive side of Stanley. Secondly, Williams opposes his main characters physically. Indeed, he describes Blanche when she arrives in New Orleans as “daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and earrings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district” (Williams 1.1805). Blanche’s description contrasts with Stanley’s description when she meets him for the first time. He is, in fact, showed as a person “of medium height, […] and strongly, compactly built. Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes” (Williams 1.1812). Blanche is dressed all in white, “white suit” and “white gloves” that refer to her name and to innocence. Then, the word “animal” used for Stanley’s description already prepares the reader for rudeness and violence from Stella’s husband. Even if they are different Stanley and Blanche have similar needs and wants. In fact, Stanley expects everyone to respect him and wants to control everybody. He already controls Stella, but Blanche’s arrival is seen as a threat to control Stella. Stanley does not want to fail. He is used to working and fighting for what he wants. Unfortunately, Blanche is used to having men’s attention and controlling them by her charms. Both of them are used to being in control and do not want this to change. They also give a lot of importance to money. In fact, Blanche tries to live like an aristocrat but she has a teacher’s salary. For her, “a teacher’s salary is barely sufficient for her living expenses” (Williams 6.1843). As Fang Wei expresses in “Blanche’s Destruction: Feminist Analysis on A Streetcar Named Desire”, “evidently, her meager incomes are barely enough to maintain her extravagant life. So, it is quite natural that she has to turn to men for help after the suicide of her husband, death of relatives and loss of her manor.” (104). She could decide to reduce her needs and spend less money on useless clothes, but she likes the money and the expensive things too much to give them up. When she realizes that she will need Stanley to help her financially, she tells her sister that “maybe, he’s what [Blanche and Stella] need to mix with [their] blood now that...
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