Comparison of “Breakfast at Tiffanys” and “Street Car Named Desire”

Both Capote and Williams explore the issues of sexuality, female rebellion, and power that characters express through their gender. Streetcar named desire exhibits the different themes that relate to blanches progressive mental fragmentation, and how her gender correlates to this. As well as exploring the male protagonist’s role of Stanley and how he is painted within the play. The text breakfast at tiffany’s, looks at how Hollys character and the way that holly uses her sexuality to get her own way around the “system” is cleverly used to manipulate the male gender, however even though she portrays herself as a strong independent woman she still relies on men to bring her income. Contextually both Capote and Williams set their texts around World War 2; the gender roles within the two texts had taken inspiration from the reality of the war e.g. stereotyped women. However what is most interesting is that both male writers choose to focus on a female perspective , during this sexist era.

Firstly, the theme of sexuality is presented in both street car named desire and in breakfast at tiffany’s. both the female protagonists use their dainty, soft feminine features to seduce the males in order to get what they want. Tennessee Williams composes as modern tragedy featuring blanche DuBois and her time spent at her sisters; Stella Kowalski’s house. Firstly we come across Blanches flirtatious behaviour towards Mitch. This is identified through her actions of taking of her “blouse and stands in her pink silk brassiere”, blanches attempts to get the male attention could be so that she feels more youthful and desired, as she is unable to fulfil that satisfaction by herself and needs a male to fill this craving for her in order for her to feel good in her own body. This is successful as Mitches attention is caught. In the late 1940s it was seen as abnormal for women to show more skin in front of other men as it was only seen as acceptable once the couple were married. Furthermore a couple of pages later Blanche speaks to Mitch as she asks whether he has any cigs, Mitch gets them out and tells her to read the inscription.

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As they are talking about the inscription she “moves closer” to Mitch and starts reading with “feigned difficulty”, this technique is used to get closer to the Mitch as she pretends that she is unable to read it from far away, almost as if she is craving for the male attention and the feeling of closure. Critic Weisman says that “Blanche DuBois fear of loneliness and abandonment is probably based on a disturbance of early relationship in which she differs intensely from her sister Stella” I agree with this as the reason for blanches instability is that she is scared to be by herself as her whole life she has had a male figure to guide her. Secondly Truman capote writes a novella about a Holly Golightly, a woman who is rather outspoken yet also very mysterious. We are able to distinguish Hollys use of sexuality when Mr Arbuck follows her up to her apartment however when they got there Holly went through and “shut the door firmly”, this disbelief in his face gives away to the readers that he was expecting something further to progress with Holly.

During the 1950s women who were accompanied men, were seen as “easy”, however Holly Golightly goes against these views as she rejects Mr Arbuck as he “only gave her 20 cents” for the powder room, according to holly this little sum of money reflects the way that she is valued by the man, therefore not proceeding any further with him as she feels that he was degrading. A playboy interview in 1968 commented “whole breed of girls who live of men but are not prostitutes” is a good interpretation o the job that Holly is doing, however is a contradiction to Hollys “strong, independent” character that Capote is presenting her, because the only reasoning behind all the materialist stuff she has is because of men. This view of females depending on males does not challenge society’s norms and values as women were typically seen as “weaker and more dependent”.

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Comparison of “Breakfast at Tiffanys” and “Street Car Named Desire”. (2022, Jan 04). Retrieved from