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How does playwright Tennessee Williams use the character's actions, description, or words to make a strong statement about gender in our society?
Blanche portrays herself as innocent and pure. Her name literally translates to "white woods", however it is all a facade. Her "feather and furs", "genuine fox fur pieces", and "solid gold dress" (Williams,85) show her altered perception of reality, exposes her madness, and reveals that she is a pathological liar. Though she is beautiful on the outside, she needs constant validation in order to feel a sense of self worth. Ultimately her misconstrued views on life leads to her demise.
"Whoever you are-I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." (Williams, 142)
In the 1950's, women had to depend on those around them; even strangers. Women were helpless in the sense that they did not receive much respect from society. They were expected to tend to domestic duties and had to abide by their husbands rules. In the play, even Stanley states that "Every man is a king..." (Williams, 107). In society, the man is deemed as powerful. He uses Blanche's dependent nature in order to show how men are presumed to be the stronger sex.
"She moans. The bottle top falls. She sinks to her knees. He picks up her inert figure and carries her to the bed." (Williams, 254)
When Blanche got raped by Stanley, her livelihood was destroyed. Society at that time would not believe the accusations a woman would make against a man because women had no voice. Blanches rape reveals the morals and values that society held. Not only was the rape brushed aside, but Blanche was deemed as mentally unstable and got sent to an insane asylum. Once a woman was admitted into an asylum, she would be treated as a mere lab experiment, not being able to defend herself and thus becoming essentially brain dead. However had a man made the accusation that a woman was assaulting him, his voice would get heard and justifiable actions would be taken. In this scene, Blanche's power, status, and psyche decays which reflects the deteriorated image that women had at that time .
In a Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams portrays Blanche as a lost and dependent woman who fulfills her self worth through the validation of the men she encounters. Not only does Blanche have a tarnished reputation, but she experiences the consequences that society imposes if a woman explores her sexuatlity. Women were not only seen as submissive and insignificant, but the morals and values society had implemented, dictated how a woman viewed herself. They would justify the wrong doings of their male counterparts by the standards that society had set. This is like life in that women are not able to fully express themselves wether it be through sexual, artistic or everyday means just because society has set a certain standard, and anyone who does not mold into these ideals is seen as a disgrace and failure.
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