In a Streetcar Named Desire, playwright Tennessee Williams creates a dominant male character that depicts the traditional idea of a man in post-war America. He utilizes Stanley's interactions with other characters to portray the "power and pride" he feels he has, as if a "richly feathered male bird among hens." His interactions with women are very telling of his arrogant nature and his insistent behavior.
How does playwright Tennessee Williams use the character's actions, descriptions, or words to make a strong statement about gender in our society?
Stanley's relationship with his wife Stella portrays how content he is with supporting this alpha-male lifestyle. Their marriage does not reflect equality, instead it shows the level to which Stella is codependent towards him, and the treatment she will endure in order to maintain their status. Although in a drunken state, Stanley hit Stella with no regards to her well-being, her conditioned mindset to always protect Stanley brought her to regard the situation as not "anything as serious as [Blanche] seemed to take it."
Her support of her husband, even after he has shown her an abusive side of him, reflects the conditioned state that she lives in within her marriage. Her dependence on him prevents her from realizing the corrupt environment her marriage exists in. This conveys a state of male dominance through Stanley's actions. His persistence in always remaining the dominant counterpart in their marriage and insisting his wife stays loyal and supportive of him unconditionally conveys his alpha-persona throughout the play.
Tiger--tiger! Drop the bottle top! Drop it! We've had this date with each other from the beginning!
Stanley's controlling demeanor in this scene portrays his controlling, alpha-male persona that enhances when women are in his presence. Although Blanche is uncomfortable in the situation she is in with Stanley, he demands that the situation is justified. He does not allow her to have a say in what will happen between them, instead he insists that his plans for them were the only option. His degrading treatment of Blanche displays his violently demanding character as he makes a victim out of Blanche.
All in all, Tennessee Williams utilizes Stanley's character to convey the tendency of men to claim an alpha-male persona in their relationships. He depicts the degrading treatment of women and how men use these actions to make themselves feel superior. Williams shows the impact that this behavior has on the development of a man's character, and in turn shows the limitations it places on the women in their lives.