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A Streetcar Named Desire Analysis

The culture of our nation is in a constant state of change. Throughout the centuries and decades, our country has weathered a perpetual motion of racial, political, economic, moral, and social change. In the last century, this change has been captured and immortalized in film. A Streetcar Named Desire is a story from a now by-gone era that will remain immortalized in our society and culture.

A Streetcar Named Desire was originally a play written by Tennessee Williams. It first opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theater on December 3, 1947 and immediately caused a controversial sensation because of its frank presentation of sexual and cultural issues. The play was adapted to film in 1951.

A Streetcar named Desire captures a changing world. Set in postwar America, it exposes the transition of culture and gender roles between the old and new South. The play is a work of social realism with the protagonist, Blanche DuBois, seeking marriage as her only option to escape destitution. Her exploitation by men, as well as her dependence on men for survival, was a norm for many women of the time. Furthermore, Blanche exemplifies the dying social order of the old South. Born a southern belle, she is meant to be beautiful and refined and ultimately marry well and reproduce. However, Blanche is born too late in the history of her family and the history of the South to inherit this legacy. With no money and her aristocratic heritage and values becoming obsolete, Blanche is unable to survive in the harsh reality of the changing, modern society of the time.

If Blanche embodies the steriotypical cultural and gender prejudices of the past, then Stanley represents the new urban modernity made manifest in his alpha-male persona. Stanley’s intense hatred of Blanche is analogous to the conflict between the aristocratic past and the emerging postwar society. His rape of Blanche is a destructive act, and he shows no remorse for dominating the object of his hatred and suspicion. In the end, Stanley prevails. He disposes of Blanche, who loses everything, and is portrayed as the enduring family man, comforting his wife in the last scene of the play.

A Streetcar Named Desire portrays conflict in a time in American history when society and culture were undergoing drastic change. The old ways were being questioned and dominated by new emerging ideas. As a result, Tennessee Williams’s timeless story will endure throughout the ages as a testament to the trials and conflict of change.