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Stanley is a family man who holds strong opinions about society elitists. Additionally, he requires control of everything around him. He needs to be able to assert his control at all times and when he is presented with opposing views, he reacts violently.
"He advances and disappears. There is the sound of a blow, Stella cries out." (Scene 3)
I want to go away. I want to go away!
The moment when Stanley hits Stella changes the reader's opinion of him. Till then, he served as a contrast to Blanche's superficiality. But the moment he hit Stella, it established his dominance over each character of the play. His desire for control is clearly visible in this scene. He is a man of the new era and yet he adheres to the past roles of men. He is the representation of people in our society who continue to reject the value of women and how they can also be a part of society without the approval of a man in their lives.
"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." (Scene 10)
Stanley rapes Blanche not because of his desire for her but because his need to assert dominance and have complete control over every situation. He states that this was fated from the beginning. They have “had this date from the beginning.” There was no escape from this reality just as there is no escape from the reality of our society. We, as a civilization, have progressed greatly from the primitive ways of older civilizations. But in regards to gender roles and equality, progress has remained stagnant. Stanley represents the New South which should show the developments, but instead he seems to be reverting back to the old ways, demonstrating a man's need to be in control of his surroundings.
Tennessee Williams utilizes the characterization of Stanley Kowalski as a man who desires control of every aspect of his surrounding in order to assert a man's desire to revert to the past ways of him being the head of the household. The fact that he hit Stella, the woman he claims to love so dearly, for no real visible purpose other than his reasoning that he can because he is the man of the household. Additionally, this is not the first time he has hit her and yet, Stella keeps on coming back to him. This is William's commentary on how society can never really change. It has become part of human nature for a woman to accept man's dominance over her and for a man to exercise this control over her. Stanley's control of his world seems to be demolishing with Blanche's entrance. She contrasts him in every way which threatens his "manliness." In order to get control back, he rapes her, destroying any sanity she possessed. Even after this act, he is accepted by society while Blanche is deemed insane. We must work as a society to not let the past definitions of gender roles dictate our future if we are to be able to progress not only technologically but also mentally.
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