A Streetcar Named Desire
Traditionalism versus Defiance in a Streetcar Named Desire
The themes of Tennessee Williams's Streetcar Named Desire follow Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: the emotional struggle for supremacy between two characters who sym - bolize historical forces, between fantasy and reality, between the Old South and a New South, between civilized restraint and primitive desire, between traditionalism and defiance. If Blanche DuBois represents defunct Southern values, Stanley Kowalski represents the new, urban moder - nity, and pays little heed to the past. If Stanley cannot inherit the DuBois's plantation, he is no longer interested in it. Williams's stage directions indicate that Stanley's virile, aggressive brand of masculinity is to be admired. His cruel intolerance of Blanche is a justifiable response to her lies, hypocrisy, and mockery, but his nasty streak of violence against his wife appalls even his friends. His rape of Blanche is a horrifying and destructive act, as well as a cruel betrayal of Stella. Ultimately, however, this survivor disposes of the "paper moon" (99) Blanche, and, as we see in the closing lines of the play, he is able to comfort, with crude tumescence, Stella's weeping, as the neighborhood returns to normality.
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