"Since the earliest manhood the center of his life has been pleasure with women... that bears his emblem of the gaudy seed-bearer" (Scene 1, p. 25).
How does playwright Tennessee Williams use the characters actions, description, or words to make a strong statement about gender in our society?
Stanley Kowalski is the stereotypical "manly man"; he values his sex life with his wife, hanging out with his friends, and being head of the household. When things don't go the way Stanley wants, his temper gets the best of him, he does posses a softer side. Stanley runs the house the way Stanley wants.
"Drunk – drunk – animal thing, you!" […] [Stanley charges after Stella.] STELLA :You lay your hands on me and I’ll – [She backs out of sight. He advances and disappears. There is the sound of a blow. Stella cries out. (Scene 3, pg. 57)
In this scene, during Stanley's poker game Stella voices her opinions which upsets Stanley, especially since she never disobeyed him until Blanche's arrival. Then a drunken Stanley hits Stella. When Stella does the opposite of what Stanley said, in front oh his friends Stanley felt that his masculinity was being tested, and had to prove that he runs his home, not a woman. Once Stanley sobers and realizes what he has he done he immediately apologizes pleading for Stella to return to home, illustrating the basis of Stanley and Stella's marriage. Also showing how sex is essentially one of the woman's few job she has .
Now that's how I'm gonna clear the table. Don't you ever talk that way to me. 'Pig,' 'Pollack,' 'disgusting,' 'vulgar,' 'greasy.' Those kind of words have been on your tongue and your sister's tongue just too much around here. What do you think you are? A pair of queens? ]that every man's a king - and I'm the King around here, and don't you forget it. (Scene 8 pg.107)
During this scene Stanley finally puts his foot down, and speaks his mind about how Blanche's arrival has negatively impacted his life/ marriage with Stella. Blanche often speaks down towards Stanley, angering him, and when Stella begins to do the same Stanley becomes fed up. To Stanley a man is the "king" of his home, so whatever he says goes, but when Blanche comes and stirs things up, Stanley becomes infuriated. Once Stella begins to speak her mind and disobeys Stanley his masculinity and overall idea of what marriage between a man and a woman should be is tested. To Stanley a woman should obey her husband no matter what.
William's uses the character of Stanley to represent the average man of the time, illustrating how man ruled the world. When something that we fear happens we often react in a negative way, showing our weaknesses. Proving that society isn't much different than animals; man will always want to be above all others
Upon Blanche's arrival Stanley and Stella lived an average life, but Blanche threw off their norm by causing a stir in their lives. Stanley being the hard headed manly man, hated the idea of his wife going against him in any kind of way, and with Blanche in the picture life as he knew it changed. Stella began to change, for instance, she disagreed with Stanley more and came to Blanche's defense before his. Fearing that his masculinity would be tested Stanley became violent, and mentally abusive to not only Stella, but to Blanche as well, showing that he ran the house; Stanley being the dictator.
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