A Streetcar Named Desire

Strong First Impression: Stanley Kowalski's Power and Masculinity College

Throughout scenes 1 and 2 of A Streetcar Named Desire, playwright Tennessee Williams presents Stanley as extremely powerful and authoritative through the use of dialogue as well as stage directions. The audience immediately learns how strong Stanley is in a physical sense; however, we soon discover that he is also very controlling in his own animalistic nature. Furthermore, it becomes evident that Stanley regards himself as the dominant partner in his relationship with Stella, as Williams conveys a sense of pre-eminence in Stanley’s attitude towards his wife. Each of these factors contribute to Stanley’s overall image of forceful masculinity, which grows more apparent as the play progresses.

Stanley’s physical appearance is a key aspect of his overall dominance in Streetcar, as it reflects his toughness and boldness throughout the play. For example, in the stage directions Williams describes Stanley as ‘strongly, compactly built,' instantly illustrating him as a robust and muscular man. The fact that he is built ‘compactly’ not only highlights his solidity but also suggests that he is explosive, in the sense that his body is so compressed that he could easily lash out in an act of violence at any second. At the beginning of Act...

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