A Streetcar Named Desire

The Presentation of Masculinity and Femininity in 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and ‘Ariel’. 12th Grade

In both Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar named Desire and Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, there is extensive concern for how masculinity and femininity are portrayed. Both texts present archetypical interpretations of gender as well as juxtaposing figures that undermine these stereotypes, either actively or passively.

One such archetype that is prevalent in both texts is the notion of brutish men. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Stanley is one such example of this. When he is introduced, the stage directions state “Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes”. This implies that his interests are of a base nature, removed from an anthropomorphic sphere of interest, hence presenting masculinity as brutish. The animalistic attitude of men as embodied by Stanley can be further argued as Stanley rarely speaks in complex sentences, instead they are typically short and punctual; “What’s this here? A solid-gold dress, I believe! And this one! What is these here? Fox-pieces!” The use of simple sentences and incorrect grammar (“What is these here?”) projects Stanley as mentally inferior to his female counterparts, yet he retains his dominance through physical superiority. This is contrary to how the stereotype of brutish...

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