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Character of Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar

The Character of Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire

Animals are, by nature, passionately instinctive; that is, when reacting to a situation, they do so forcefully and spontaneously. Therefore, we can think of passionate instinct as an intense, innate reaction to a particular situation. Animals also lack what we call ‘inhibition’ — the suppression of a natural drive, instinct or feeling. For instance, when a skunk senses danger, it will not restrain its natural, defensive reaction and will not hesitate to spray a foul-smelling substance in the direction of the danger for self-protection. When cattle sense a threat to their environment, they do not try to rationalize their way to safety — they stampede. If a bull’s passions are aroused, it will either charge or mate with the nearest cow.

Passionate instinct drives us, as well. Although we often try to reason our way through situations as civilized, rational beings should, there is sometimes a point where we can no longer be controlled by reason. This point often comes when we feel some strong emotion, and our rational halves become shadowed by our darker, instinctive sides. We often conceal this darker half because the instinct, which is so much a part of it, may lead to violence when released. It appears that the very idea of being ruled by instinct has become distasteful; people who use their instincts to get through a situation are often labeled as being ‘unpredictable’, ‘maverick’, and ‘dangerous’. Although we consider ourselves to be civilized, we were once a race ruled by instinct — and still are, to some extent.

A man’s instinct can also reach the point where it nearly drowns his ‘civilized’ side, as in the case of Stanley Kowalski. In A St…

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…that cannot be prevented. However, if mankind does manage to squelch all inhibitions and allow his actions to be ruled by instinct alone, then humanity’s tenuous hold on civility will be loosened and the results could be catastrophic.

Works Cited

Adler, Thomas P. A Streetcar Named Desire: The Moth and the Lantern. New York: Twayne, 1990.

Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will. New York: Bantam Books, 1975.

Dworkin, Andrea. Intercourse. New York: The Free Press, 1087

Lant, Kathleen Margaret. “A Streetcar Named Misogyny.” pp. 225-238 in REDMOND.

Miller, Jordan. Twentieth Century Interpretations of a Streetcar Named Desire: a collection of critical essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1971.

Redmond, James (Editor). Violence in Drama. Cambridge University Press; 1991.

Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. Signet: New York, 1947.

Streetcar Named Desire Essay: Themes in A Streetcar Named Desire

Themes in A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire is a pessimistic work that is the “culmination of a view of life in which evil, or at least undiminished insensitivity, conquers throughout no matter what the protagonistic forces do”(Szeliski 69). In other words, sensitive individuals all meet a similar fate-crushed under the heels of those who lack sensitivity.

This play is about Blanche DuBois; therefore, the main themes of the drama concern her directly. In Blanche is seen the tragedy of an individual caught between two worlds-the past world of the Southern gentlewoman and the present world of crudeness and decay-unwilling to let go of the past and unable, because of her character, to come to any sort of terms with the present (Falk 94). The final result is her destruction. This process began long before her clash with Stanley Kowalski. It started with the death of her young husband, a weak and perverted boy who committed suicide when she taunted him with her disgust at the discovery of his perversion. In retrospect, she knows that he was the only man she had ever loved, and from this early catastrophe evolved her promiscuity. She is lonely and frightened, and she attempts to fight this condition with sex. Desire fills the emptiness when there is no love and desire blocks the inexorable movement of death, which has already wasted and decayed Blanche’s ancestral home Belle Reve.

For Blanche, Belle Reve was the remaining symbol of a life and tradition that she knows in her heart have vanished, yet to which she clings with a desperate tenacity. In doing so, she is “both an individual and a representative of her society, an emblem of a lost tradition” (Krutch 39). She is dated. Her speech, manners and habi…

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Adler, Thomas. A Streetcar Named Desire: The Moth and the Lantern. New York: Twayne, 1990.

Baym, Nina et al, eds. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton

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