Stanley is a misogynistic, alpha male who served in the military and now works as a parts salesman for a factory. He likes to spend his free time playing poker, bowling with his friends, and beating his wife Stella, who he treats as his own property.
Key Moment 1
BLANCHE [wildly]: Stella, watch out, he's-- [Stanley charges after Stella.] men [feebly]: Take it easy, Stanley. Easy, fellow.--Let's all-- 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. Blanche screams and runs into the kitchen. The men rush forward and there is grappling and cursing. Something is overturned with a crash.]
This first defining moment exposes Stanley’s true nature as a wife beater and someone who has a superiority complex. The fact that he is an abusive husband shows the nature of men and women in society as the men are stronger and more powerful than women, utilizing this to get what they want. It is also the moments that follow this event that truly show the gender commentary behind Stanley’s character. Seconds after he has beaten his wife, in a room full of his friends, they proceed to worry about whether Stanley is okay, rather than his pregnant wife. His friends act as if it’s a usual occurrence for a male to beat his wife and they view it as if he merely “blew his top”.
Key Moment 2
STANLEY: What did you do that for? BLANCHE: So I could twist the broken end in your face! STANLEY: I bet you would do that! BLANCHE: I would! I will if you-- STANLEY: Oh! So you want some rough-house! All right, let's have some rough-house! [He springs toward her, overturning the table. She cries out and strikes at him with the bottle top but he catches her wrist.] Tiger--tiger! Drop the bottle top! Drop it! We've had this date with each other from the beginning! [She moans. The bottle top falls. She sinks to her knees. He picks up her inert figure and carries her to the bed. The hot trumpet and drums from the Four Deuces sound loudly.]
This second moment is extremely representative of the way society treats both genders, especially in the time period the work was written. Stanley rapes Blanche and rather than being arrested when she tells Stella what happened she ends up being sent to an insane asylum. Stanley gets off the hook without any repercussions and Stella remains with him while her own sister is wrongfully put away. This shows how little women had a say in anything, whether they spoke up when they were wrongfully treated they rarely were heard out. Men were able to get away with treating women in anyway that pleased them and it was expected to be accepted by their society. This key moment also reveals how deeply entitled Stanley feels as a man. He treats women as objects that solely benefit him and feels entitled to do whatever pleases him, even if that means violating a woman.
In his play, Tennessee Williams illustrates to the audience the powerful role of men in society meanwhile women were left with little to no power. He develops these standards through Stanley’s actions and shows the reader/viewer that regardless of the actions taken by men they receive little of any negative outcomes, while women are persecuted against for no reason at all.