ANALYSIS OF THE WOMEN IMAGE, BLANCHE AND STELLA, IN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS’ A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE 1. Background of Analysis A streetcar Named Desire is a stage play that written by Tennese Wiliams. It first published in 1947 and takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this play, Williams presents women as powerless, weak, and passive characters who are tightly linked to their persecutors due to economic, social, and physical needs. During the time period of Tennessee Williams, author of the play A Streetcar Named Desire, lived in, men were typically portrayed as leaders of the household.
Therefore, it can be seen that there is a genre struggle in the play. The image of women in this play seem to be lower than the man. In this paper, the writer deals with the image of women, Blance and Stella, in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire. It presents an analysis of the both female characters in the play and their negative relationships with men. This paper shows the writer’s sympathy with women and their problems as they live in a materialistic male-dominated society.
It is interesting to analyze the image of women in A Streetcar Named Desire because this play portrays the weakness of a women’s lives and also presents that woman as a victim in the play. These can be seen in the play when Blanche as the key character, becomes a fallen woman in society’s eyes . Almost her life journey showed the negative side of women, from her declining when her family fortune and estate are gone that make her avoid the past, until the raping action that happened with her. In other side, Stella, portrayed that women, especially a wife, do not have the freedom to vote and must be surrender to husband.
Based on the explanation above, the writer wants to analyze this play by applying feminism theory and entitled this paper “Analysis of the Women Image, Blanche And Stella, In Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. ” 2. Problem and It’s Scope Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is a harsh, yet powerful play that exposes the reality of the gender struggle. Williams illustrates society’s changing attitudes towards masculinity and femininity through his eloquent use of dramatic devices such as characterization, dialogue, setting, symbolism, and foreshadowing.
Stanley, the protagonist, is a symbol for society’s view of the stereotypical man, while Blanche and Stella is a symbol for society’s view of the weak women. Therefore, in conducting this study, the writer focuses on the problem analysis in the women image just with Blanche DuBois and Stella Kowalski as the two women majors characters in the play. The problem of the analysis is showed in the question “what are the women images in A Streetcar Named Desire”. In order to focus the analysis, the writer has to limit the problem of analysis.
The writer focuses on: 1. The view of feminist critism in the women image of A Streetcar Named Desire 2. The woman image in the Blanche DuBois character 3. The woman image in the Stella Kowalski character. 3. Analysis The analysis of the women image in A Streetcar Named Desire devided into: 3. 1 The view of feminist critism in the women image of A Streetcar Named Desire Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.
In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist is “an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women”. Feminist theory, which emerged from these feminist movements, aims to understand the nature of gender inequality by examining women’s social roles and lived experience; it has developed theories in a variety of disciplines in order to respond to issues such as the social construction of sex and gender. Some of the earlier forms of feminism have been criticized for taking into account only white, middle-class, educated perspectives.
This led to the creation of ethnically specific or multiculturalist forms of feminism. Feminist activists campaign for women’s rights – such as in contract law, property, and voting. A Streetcar Named Desire lends itself quite naturally to feminist criticism. Feminism, a movement whose roots can be traced back to the middle ages, had come into its own in the twentieth century, though it was not a major force in the American South. Feminist critics, who accept the idea that gender differences are culturally determined, not inborn, interpret literature as a record of male dominance.
The attitudes of men who impose their will on women and try to convince then of their inferiority are evident throughout this play: the way they interact with women, discuss them, look at them, talk to them, use and abuse them. Williams’ presentation of women in A Streetcar Named Desire is a traditional one. The image of women in this play is not different from that presented in traditional literary works in which women are presented as submissive characters who are dependent upon male’s authority and control and men are portrayed as leaders of the house.
The play has only one difference because Blanche tries to defy a man whom she believes to be inferior to her in class position and education. It shows the consequences of this upon the life of this woman as she sets herself against this cruel man. In this sense, an analysis of the female characters presented in the play and their conflict with the male characters especially Stanley, the dominant male character in the play, is very important in showing the playwright’s presentation of women. The bad Blanche’s character in this play makes the class of woman in society becomes lower.
It can be seen from her characters that snobbish, avoided the reality of herlife, material woman, and the victim of her brother-in law. Beside it, another woman character, Stella, shows the dependent woman that make the man be upper than woman. Both characters emphasize the weakness of women. In this case, feminist stand to avoided those things with the view that men’s liberation is a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles. Women is the important part in men’s lives. Some feminist critics have attacked the play for portraying these women as victims and losers.
Both Blanche and Stella are able to get married, but their choices are not suitable. Blanche had married a man whom she dearly loved, but later discovered that he was a homosexual man and by expressing her disgust for his behavior she led him to suicide. Stella, on the other hand, has married a man, Stanley, who is inferior to her socially and who is arrogant and aggressive, abusing her physically and leaving her without a voice. Beside it, feminist also critics the raping of Blanche by Stanley, that show an bad image for woman. It is also can be seen in scene five. Blanche admits to have slept with men to get money and protection.
To feel wanted, and not overlooked. Poverty being the main culprit behind these acts, has forced Blanche to do these acts. Blanche and Stella both show that the traditional woman has few choices: she must be the good daughter, sheltered and virginal; the good wife, protected and faithful; or the good mother, loving and wise. If she is forced by circumstances to work, she must undertake womanly tasks – teaching the young or nursing the old. It was not really appropriate for a gentlewoman to labor outside the home, but some accommodation became essential when women increasingly found themselves without male providers.
Even within the home, the lady was not expected to do the heavy labor. Her ideal role was to be a pampered doll, waited on by servants, cherished by husband and children. 3. 2 The Woman Image in The Blanche Dubois Character The image of Blanche character in this play is already a fallen woman in society’s eyes. When she was completely destitute, she avoided the reality and preferring to live in lies. Blanche appears in the first scene dressed in white, with her elegant manner, white gown, gloves, and pearl earrings she seems a stranger and an outsider in this poor working class place, though she will be an intruder on the life of her sister.
Throughout the play, the audience is informed that she has lost her family, her young husband who was her first love, her fortune, the genteel society of her ancestors, her job, and consequently her reputation and honor in her society. After the death of her husband and all the members of her family, Blanche became a victim to loneliness. She was lost between her desire, which has been her driving motivation, and her loneliness. Although she has fallen in the eyes of her society, she still wants to believe that she is Blanche Dubois the respectable lady she has been once upon a time.
She pretends to be a woman of dignity in front of her sister, her brother-in-law and their acquaintances. That is why she dresses herself in fine clothes and behaves like an aristocrat. Her reliance upon outward appearance is an attempt to make herself attractive to male suitors. She is conscious of her miserable condition as a poor and destitute woman, and by marrying she hopes to settle and escape poverty and loneliness. Williams uses many symbols to reinforce the image of Blanche as a fallen woman. Blanche often wears white clothes because she wants the people to think that she is pure, innocent, and honest10.
The fact that her white dress is stained in Scene Five symbolizes her dishonesty and false purity. She has also become hysterical due to her excessive sexual relations. She keeps bathing in hot water throughout the play, though it is in summer, and says that these bathes calm her nerves. In her sexual relations, Blanche was particularly drawn to very young men who would remind her of her young husband. This reflects her nostalgia to the past when she was young, especially her happy days with her beloved husband before his suicide.
It also makes her feel that she is still young. That is why in a scene in the play Blanche detains a young collector of a newspaper, who comes to her sister’s apartment while the latter is away with her husband, long enough to kiss him because he reminds her of her young husband. After kissing the young man, she urges him to leave saying “I’ve got to be good and keep my hands off children,” a speech which shows her desire to change her life into a better one. Similarly she was fired from her job as a teacher because of having an affair with a young student.
Still, during these years of promiscuity, Blanche has never been able to find anyone to fill the emptiness in her life. The rape is Blanche’s destruction as a woman. In all previous sexual encounters, Blanche had freely given of herself. But to be taken so cruelly and so brutally by Stanley who represents all qualities which Blanche found vile caused her entire world to collapse. Losing her way altogether at the end of the play, Blanche can no longer distinguish illusion from reality. So she goes to an asylum. At the end the doctor approaches Blanche in a gentle manner and convinces her to leave with him.
This submissive behavior, allowing the doctor to lead her away, represents her total dependence upon men. Her final speech to the doctor as he helps her “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” is an admission from her of her weak and dependent nature, that she is helpless in this harsh world of reality. No wonder. Blanche rejects reality in favor of illusion since reality has treated her unkindly. Her attempt to escape into her own fantasies, especially at the end of the play, enables her to shield herself from the harsh blows of reality. Thus fantasy has become her primary means of self-defense.
But in her final struggle against Stanley, as she retreats completely into her own world, she becomes completely insane. She is not the stoic who can face all these troubles and dilemmas patiently. She is already ruined and defeated when the play opens, and the last blow from Stanley is enough to bring her final destruction. Yet she feigns to be happy at the end despite the ultimate triumph of reality. She exits without looking back or saying goodbye as she goes. 3. 3 The Woman Image in The Stella Character Another female character in the play who is worthy of evaluation is Stella.
Stella is torn between her homage to her sister and her loyalty to her husband. She is trapped “in the middle of a war between gentrified society, represented by Blanche, and the rugged, practical world of the working class personified by Stanley”. Stanley treats his wife with no respect. According to him, the duty of a woman is to obey her husband and endure his abusive behaviors. If the woman shows any kind of objection or disobedience, she is subdued and beaten. So, domestic violence is something common in the Kowalski household. She believes that “men and women have to get used to each other’s ways of life.
She is very satisfied with her simple life with Stanley and forgets the prestigious life that she was living in the past. She is very adaptable to circumstances. She, unlike her sister, does not oppose or struggle against the new in America but is able to mix up and indulge with the modern. When Blanche arrives, Stella advices her that Stanley is vulgar and is not similar to the southern gentlemen they knew at Mississippi. But despite her husband’s vulgarity, Stella is madly in love with him and refuses to let anything come between her and him.
She endures her husband’s violent nature as something that attracted her from the beginning of their relationship, a thing which is difficult for Blanche to understand. Stella tells Blanche: “Stanley’s always smashed things. Why, on our wedding night–soon as we came in here–he snatched off one of my slippers and rushed about the place smashing the light bulbs with it”. Stella is a passive woman. She depends completely upon her husband leaving everything for him to control and arrange. She is aware of her husband’s importance for her and she says that he knows what the best is for her and that he can take care of her.
Stella’s passive nature manifests itself when she allows not only her husband but also her sister, Blanche, to control her, treating her like a maid or servant. From the very beginning of the play, Blanche, as she arrives at her sister’s apartment, greets her with orders like “Stand up! ” and “You hear I said stand up! ”, and Stella obeys these orders passively. Stella, who is more realistic than her sister, chooses to remain with Stanley, her husband, at the end of the play. This, in fact, emphasizes her realistic and practical view towards life. She is satisfied with her life as the wife of a factory worker.
She is not discontented to leave her previous prestigious life and social pretence behind her in exchange of her life with her husband. She is convinced that she has a secure life and future with Stanley in spite of his brutality. She argues that her husband’s violent nature does not matter and that her husband is gentle and passionate in essence. She trusts and defends her sister throughout the play but cannot believe her when she accuses Stanley of sexual attack on her so that she can go on living with him: “I couldn’t believe [Blanche’s] story and go on living with Stanley”. . Conclusion After analyzing The Woman Image in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, the writer gets description of the fact from many years ago until today’s society, how differently a man and woman. Feminist critics, who accept the idea that gender differences are culturally determined, not inborn, interpret literature as a record of male dominance. Many feminists are negatively affected by the play debasing the woman image by the character of Blanche and Stella.
This is a woman’s story: Blanche, the key character, whose point of view dominates the story; is a woman; her problems are distinctly women’s problems, her limitations and strategies are peculiar to powerless women. In addition, the character who is faced with deciding between the warring parties, Stella, is another kind of woman. Yet her choices are also peculiarly female choices, and her final decision is a concession to the constraints on a woman, not only in twentieth-century America, but in most of human history.
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