May 16, 2011
Word Count: 547
Stanley Kowalski in
“A Street Car Named Desire”
In “A Street Car Named Desire” Tennessee Williams explores the natures and tendencies of several southern characters living in New Orleans around the mid 1930’s. One of his major characters is Stanley Kowalski, represented as a dynamic character, whom initially seems to represent the antagonist of the story, yet as the play develops, it seems that he becomes the more trustworthy and realistic character in the playwright. Some may argue that he is a cruel, crude, chauvinistic pig, and although it can be found that he is, at times, more aggressive and abusive with women that he ought to be, he also represents the rebellion against pretensions and dishonesty that one of the other main characters, Blanche, displays.
Blanche Dubois embodies the more ancient southern roots of American history, focusing on the hierarchy in social status and conforming to the ‘proper’ Victorian morals as to how ‘ladies and gentlemen’ should act towards each other. Stanley fervently negates this way of thinking with his more modernistic view on life, that facing reality fearlessly is much more practical and successful than living in a fantasy world.
In this way of thinking, it has also been argues that Stanley is a ‘caveman’ and that “he acts like an animal, has an animal’s habits” and that Stanley basically is comparable to that of a lower human, with no manners or reprehension of acting on his animalistic instincts. However, it is also found that Stanley also exemplifies “the survival of the fittest,” in regards to the Darwinian Theory. Because he acts out and displays aggression and dominance, he is the survivor of this story, and refuses to be anything lower than such.
Blanche also insults Stanley with racial slurs, such as “Polack” and that Stanley “isn’t the same” as Stella and Blanche. She imposes social hierarchy in the old southern sense, where race and ethnicity play a role in social standing, and Stanley, in a way, beats Blanche in her own game of superiority because he shows that just because he is of different ancestry, doesn’t mean that he cannot be the leader of the pack; the dominant alpha wolf. He refuses to fall for Blanche’s pretensions and gladly proves his beliefs about Blanche with hard cold facts; the complete opposite of Blanche’s strategies. Blanche refuses to accept reality and fills her life with people and objects to block the truth of life, and says “I don’t want realism, I want magic!” Stanley accepts that life isn’t full of daisies and roses, and continues living with life the best way he can.
Stanley is a dynamic character in the story in the way that he makes the readers feel different feelings for him. Readers may initially appear disgusted and astonished by his actions, yet there is another side of Stanley that many readers can heartily agree with; life isn’t perfect or easy, and sometimes it’s necessary to just unleash all pent-up emotions and bang and crash everything in our midst, just as Stanley does many times throughout the playwright. Stanley may not symbolize the best characteristics in a man, yet he shows that falsehood and lies does not get one anywhere, and that people who believe themselves to be superior to others are nothing but wrecks themselves, and are heading for disaster.