A Streetcar Named Desire
A clash of cultures or individuals? 12th Grade
To a great extent, Williams presents a clash between two cultures rather than one between two individuals. Witnessed in the play is the struggle between ‘Old Southern’ culture, whose values are embodied by protagonist Blanche Dubois and the new post-war New Orleans that Stanley Kowalski personifies. The conflict between these two figures throughout the play serve as a conduit for Williams’ exploration of cultural evolution in post-war America and whether or not these cultures with contrasting ideals could co-exist harmoniously or indeed, at all.
First and foremost, Williams establishes the clash of cultures through the use of setting and symbolism at the outset of the play. Structurally, the introduction of New Orleans instead of the characters first indicates the significance of Williams’ choice of setting. The playwright’s setting of the action in “tenements”, costuming Stanley in “denim” and his introduction to the audience in-medias-res provide a snapshot of working class life and the paradigm shift in southern culture. Following an economic upsurge from various foreign policy agreements such as the Marshall Plan as well as being left relatively unscathed by WW2, America launched its ascension to global economic supremacy....
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