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Misguided Feminist Reaction to A Streetcar Named Desire

Misguided Feminist Reaction to A Streetcar Named Desire

The dramatic climax of A Streetcar Named Desire, clearly illustrates the mastery of author Tennessee Williams. The brilliantly constructed text, with its tragic story and enticing characters, propels the reader to a point in which he becomes emotionally involved in the dynamics of Williams’ world. Unfortunately, many feminists are negatively affected by Williams’ captivating writing style. In turn, feminists have developed an array of very strong opinions regarding the climax, often responding with a very personal and emotive discussion of the issues.

Concentrating on the dynamics of each character and his stance during the climax, feminists present an intelligent discussion on the inevitability of the rape and its effect on the characters. Unfortunately, many feminists have a tendency to become focused on the morals of rape, rather than exploring the symbolic nature of rape. Many feminists have also let their emotions and personal values sway their arguments, even to the point where they personally attack Tennessee Williams. However, a correct reading of the climax should focus on the symbolism of the event and the positioning of characters. From this stance, it becomes much clearer why this disturbing climax was essential, especially when considering the shocking conclusion to the play.

The feminist’s lack of serious discussion of the necessity of the rape scene is the weak link in their argument. While feminists concede that the character of Blanche is a woman with more than a few “inconsistencies”, their description of Stanley as a “monster” is not justified. Feminists neglect to consider Stanley’s vulnerability as a factor in the rape; but they justify…

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… and the rape are archetypes of society, representing the battle between good will and survival, good and evil, class and inhumanity, behind which the driving force is utter desire!

Works Cited and Consulted

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.

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

Spoto, Donald. The Kindness of Strangers. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1985.

Williams, Edwina Dakin. Remember Me to Tom. St. Louis: Sunrise Publishing Company, 1963.

Williams, Tennessee. Memoirs. New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc: 1975.

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

Free Young Goodman Brown Essays: Major Images Found in YGB Young Goodman Brown essays

Major Images Found in Young Goodman Brown Salem village: It was “the center of the witchcraft delusion, in the witching times of 1692, and it shows the populace of Salem Village, those chief in authority as well as obscure young citizens like Brown, enticed by fiendish shapes into the frightful solitude of superstitious fear” (Abel 133). the pink ribbons of her cap: 1. “The ribbons are in fact an explicit link between two conceptions of Faith, connecting sweet little Faith of the village with the woman who stands at the Devil’s baptismal font. We can legitimately disagree about the meaning of this duality; the fact remains that in proposing that Faith’s significance is the opposite of what he had led the reader to expect, Hawthorne violates the fixed conceptual meaning associated with his character” (Levy 123). “They are part of her adornment of dress, and they suggest, rather than symbolize something light and playful, consistent with her anxious simplicity at the beginning and the joyful, almost childish eagerness with which she greets Brown at the end” (Levy 124). 2. “These ribbons . . . are an important factor in the plot, and as an emblem of heavenly faith their color gradually deepens into the liquid flame or blood of the baptism into sin” (Fogle 24). 3. “The pink ribbons that adorn the cap which Faith wears . . . are a badge of feminine innocence” (Abel 130). 4. “Neither scarlet nor white, but of a hue somewhere between, the ribbons suggest neither total depravity nor innocence, but a psychological state somewhere between. Tied like a label to the head of Faith, they represent the tainted innocence, the spiritual imperfection of all mankind” (Ferguson). Goodman Brown: 1. According to Levy, he “is Everyman. The bargain he has struck with Satan is the universal one . . . . Initially, he is a naive and immature young man who fails to understand the gravity of the step he has taken . . . [which is] succeeded by a presumably adult determination to resist his own evil impulses” (117). 2. Fogle writes that he is “a naive young man who accepts both society in general and his fellow men as individuals at their own valuation, [who] is in one terrible night confronted with the vision of human evil . . . ” (15). fellow-traveler: 1. Hale writes that he is “a likeness or part or ancestor of Brown himself” (17). 2. “This man is, of course, the Devil, who seeks to lure the still reluctant goodman to a witch-meeting. In the process he progressively undermines the young man’s faith in the institutions and the men whom he has heretofore revered” (Fogle 17). staff: “[W]hen the diabolic companion throws his twisted staff down at the feet of Goody Cloyse,” the act references the biblical story of “Aaron [who] had thrown down his rod (staff) before Pharoah, and so had the magicians of Egypt done with theirs, and all became serpents . . . ” (Hale 17). “Therefore, within an allegorical or typological framework, the staff of Brown’s companion is being linked with the opponents of Moses and of the God of Israel. . . . It typifies deformity, evil, all that which fascinates Brown” (Hale 18). Just as the rods (staffs) of the Egyptian magicians had become serpents when thrown down before Pharoah, so “Hawthorne suggests wonder-working, therefore power, in the strange antics of the twisted staff . . . . the symbolism is that of a struggle, a universal (not merely sexual) struggle for possession of the mind” (Hale 18). my catechism: “Although the treatment of innate depravity in the catechism is relatively brief, this was only one source of information about human corruption and its implications available to Puritan youth. As part of the Puritan upbringing . . . Brown doubtless would have sat through many sermons that emphasized innate depravity, which his family of churchgoers presumably reinforced . . . ” (Franklin 71). “Had Brown understood from childhood that humans, all of whom are depraved, cannot obey the Commandments, that fidelity to God’s law is impossible, [as the Puritan catechism teaches] he would not be so surprised to see, or to think he sees, the several worthies preparing to act in a decidedly non-Christian manner in the woods” (Franklin 80). maple stick: Hale writes: “the point about a maple [stick] is that it rots from inside, out of sight. . . . Hawthorne discriminates. The maple stick . . . is given to Brown, the twisted staff to Goody Cloyse: she has apparently undergone confirmation in evil, where Brown is weak and rotten” (Hale 17). Faith: 1. “She is at once an allegorical idea and the means by which the idea is inverted” (Levy 116). “Not the least terrifying aspect of the story is the insinuation that Faith has made her own independent covenant with the Devil. There is a faint suggestion that her complicity may be prior to and deeper than Brown’s” (Levy 120). 2. “If he [Brown] believed in the certainty of depravity and only the possibiity of salvation, as the [Puritan] catechism teaches, he would know that even so righteous a person as Faith is corrupt and not necessarily of the elect, appearances notwithstanding” (Franklin 73). a pink ribbon: 1. “Brown calls out three times for Faith to come to his aid, and not until he [Brown] sees a pink ribbon from Faith’s cap that has fluttered down from the sky and caught on the branch of a tree does he abandon hope . . . . [It is] the tangible evidence of Faith’s desertion” (Levy 117). 2. “The pink ribbon seen in the forest may be merely a lustful projection of the goodman’s depraved fancy, which wills wickedness . . . even as it reluctantly departs from its forfeited innocence” (Abel 136). the forest: “Hawthorne emphasizes the split between convention and the unconscious by having Brown move from the town to the country as he follows his impulses. The deeper he moves into the forest, the more completely he becomes one with his ‘evil'” (Bunge 13). laughter: According to Coldiron, “Hawthorne uses laughter to mark his protagonists’ epiphanies and to emphasize points of thematic conflict. . . . a Satan-figure, the elder traveler, initiates the dreadful laughter . . . . [which] mocks Brown’s naive belief in the innocence of the townspeople, as he wonders aloud how he could face his minister after such a night’s journey into evil. . . [T]he transformation of Faith’s scream into a laugh of acceptance as she joins a similarly evil gathering in progress . . . . intensifies and personalizes Brown’s perception of conflict. Thus, propelled by crescendos of laughing, Brown sees the pink ribbon fall, and his awareness of the conflict between good and evil is complete. He gives himself over to a new perspective.” After Faith’s apparent union with Satan, Brown “initiates the horrible laughter, as the Satan-figure first did, [which] confirms not only his awareness of the opposition of good and evil forces, but also his union with, acceptance of, and even leadership in the evil viewpoint” (19). the demoniac: “Utterly possessed by the Devil, he [Brown] yields to the conviction that the world is given over to sin” (Levy 118). a hanging twig and the coldest dew: It awakens Goodman Brown “to reality from his dream or vision” when it “scatters cold dew on his cheek. . . . [It] is the vehicle for bringing to Brown’s face the reminder of what would be correct behavior and attitude for a man in this situation. He should be weeping, but he is not.” Because Goodman Brown “does not weep,” Hawthorne sprinkles dew “on his cheek to represent the absence of tears. This lack of tears, the outward sign of an inward reality, posits the absence of the innate love and humility that would have made possible Brown’s moral and spiritual progression” (Easterly 340). Goodman Brown: 1. “The young man has the vulnerability of youth and, having newly yielded to the persuasions of the Devil, he has been led step by step to mistrust all he had believed in” (Abel 131). 2. “Since Brown never masters the lessons Goody Cloyse tried to teach him, he cannot fit spiritually, emotionally, or psychologically into his own society” (Franklin 82). that fearful dream: Levy writes that through this metaphor “the many hints of Brown’s unconscious fascination with evil are communicated, but Hawthorne recognizes that our waking life and the life of dreams are bound up together–that life is like a dream in its revelation of terrifying truths. His point is that the truth conveyed in the dream–that faith may betray us–is also a truth of waking experience” (116).

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