A Streetcar Named Desire

Stanley Kowalski: Villain or Family Man? 12th Grade

When looking at A Streetcar Named Desire – a tragedy, after all – it is traditionally required that there should be a selected antagonist, a ‘villain’ so to speak. Stanley Kowalski, you could argue, is that ‘villain’. It is evident that throughout the play he is responsible for much of Blanche’s downfall and ultimate destruction, learning to break her down by his knowledge of her indiscreet past of promiscuity. In addition, we can look at the way he treats Stella, his wife, the other main female role in the piece - violent outbursts such as in Scene 3 and chauvinistic comments can lead us to assume he is a cruel character. However we have to consider the circumstances that this play is set in – the working class environment that is fueled by ambition and set for the future. Stanley is very much a family man who strives for success, acting in order to sustain his and their future together. So perhaps, he is not wholly the villain that we could assume him to be.

From the instance that we meet Stanley, it is apparent that he is a dominant force – the “richly feathered male bird” – and he is able to use this authority to cause Blanche extensive pain. This could be a reason for us to label him as a ‘villain’. His dominance over the...

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