Can I please get some feedback + potential grade it would be awarded?
Texts that offer an insightful view of the world are often worth the reader’s time.
Texts that offer an insightful view of the world generally apprehend the true nature of societal conflicts thus delving into the nuances of human nature. These are often worth the reader’s time as such aspects are able to challenge our perspectives thereby altering our preconceived notions. In 1947’s A Streetcar Named Desire written by playwright Tennessee Williams, class tension comes into play between Stanley Kowalski as a working-class man and Blanche Dubois’s sophisticated heritage. Stanley’s potent masculine demeanour progressively increases and dominates other characters, hence presenting the patriarchy which existed at the time. Blanche’s fragile and destitute persona contributes to her deteriorating mental health, resulting in her institutionalisation at the conclusion of the play. The reader is given a profound view of the globe through these occurrences, which is well worth our time.
With both characters representing opposing extremities of the social spectrum, the power struggle between Blanche and Stanley is associated with the idea of aristocracy. Former Southern Belle Blanche, represents the declining nobility, while Stanley symbolises the heterogenous middle class. Throughout the play, each character attempts to subjugate the other. By exhibiting genteel etiquette and education, Blanche seeks to maintain her patrician background. She continually criticises his actions and lack of humanity. Scene 3’s confrontation between Blanche and Stanley about his lack of consideration for Stella’s concerns throughout her pregnancy makes this point apparent. She shrieks, “You’re primitive, Stanley! You’re someone that has to be kept in check!” In response, Stanley grabs her arm, further displaying his aggressiveness. She also tries to attract Stanley sexually, but he sees through her pretence and is unfazed by her elite aspirations. He frequently questions Blanche’s sincerity and her self-control. He also degrades her and takes away her dignity by using his knowledge of her promiscuous past. The battle between Blanche and Stanley provides an analogy for how different socio-economic classes in society compete with one another for ascendancy. Within the same scene, Blanche dismisses Stanley as a “Polack,” a pejorative term signifying belittlement of his nationality. When playing poker with his companions, Stanley has disclosed that he is of Polish descent, and Blanche takes this as an opportunity to disparage him, saying “I’m not accustomed to having more than one drink. Two is the limit, and three… Unless of course, the lady is a Polack.” This scene emphasises the convoluted discrepancy between the two characters and how Blanche uses her status to ultimately denigrate and dehumanise Stanley. The same tension in Western society is visible in the widening gap between rich and poor households. Class conflict and wealth inequality are indeed interconnected. For instance, affluent people may try to uphold their social position by highlighting their education and cultural capital, whereas members of the working class may proclaim their superiority by flaunting physical prowess or materialistic belongings as Stanley does. Williams offers a definite judgement into the conflicts that occur between various social classes and the ways in which individuals of those groups attempt to dominate one another. As readers, we are able to gain a clear understanding of the complexities in regard to the social variables revolving around Blanche and Stanley’s connection.
Williams explores the ugly truths of patriarchy in the relationship between Stanley Kowalski and his wife, Stella Kowalski. This is particularly apparent through Stanley’s adherence to the Napoleonic Code and the traditional gender norms of the 1940s. The Napoleonic Code, which was still implemented in Louisiana at this period, was a legal code that reinforced the dominance of males in that state. Stanley exhibits this code in Scene 4 while conversing with Stella concerning Blanche’s documents. Accordingly, “In the state of Louisiana, we have what’s known as the Napoleonic code… What belongs to the wife belongs to the husband also and vice versa.” This reveals Stanley’s fidelity to the code’s insistence on masculine control over assets. Stanley also embodies this code in his relationship with Stella. He views her as his property and asserts his control over her, both physically and emotionally. In Scene 8, he demands that Blanche call him “Mr. Kowalski” instead of just “Stanley,” declaring, “When we first met, you thought I was common. Well, how do you like that, huh? How do you like that ‘common’ stuff?.. And now you’re gonna call me your 'good man’.” This elicits his desire to exert power, reinforcing the traditional gender norms of the time. Stella, on the other hand, conforms to the expectations placed upon her as a woman then. She is subservient to her husband and does not challenge his authority. Additionally, she is willing to overlook his abusive behaviour in order to maintain traditional gender roles and societal expectations. This is evident in Scene 4 wherein Stella’s amusement of Stanley’s aggressive conduct in regard to their wedding night is revealed, “He smashed the lightbulbs with the heel of my slipper… however I was - I was thrilled by it.” As a result, it draws attention to the vulnerability of rigidly upholding conventional gender standards. In addition to harming their relationship, Stanley’s abusive mien with Stella mirrors the more fundamental societal problem of domestic violence. Despite the developments in modern society towards gender equality, there is still much to be accomplished. Every individual should consider their own attitudes and actions, attempting to dispel gender stereotypes, and advocate for fair treatment for all. The ongoing relevance of the gender pay-gap emphasises how critical it is to recognise and address systemic challenges. This aspect of 1940s society is widely prevalent not just in Louisiana, but across the United States today. Although it is a harrowing experience, it is worthwhile to read of such an example of co-dependence.
Blanche is susceptible and prone to emotional upheavals owing to a complicated behavioural affliction she is suffering from. Many events, including Blanche’s sordid past, her addiction to drinking and sexual fulfilment, have had an adverse impact on her wellbeing. Blanche’s psychological condition is typified by an acute sense of denial, hence the inability to accept the truth of her predicament. She is emotionally damaged and unable to handle her current situation as a result of her past tragedy, which includes the suicide of her young spouse Allan, and her role in her family’s financial downfall. Blanche’s propensity to withdraw into a realm of fantasy is motivated primarily by her anxiety about growing older and her desire to escape from the Kowalski household and into a safe haven. Mitch is a close companion of Stanley who develops romantic feelings for Blanche. However, Mitch and Blanche become acquaintances as they both share a sense of loneliness and a need for companionship, yet their romance ends when Blanche’s past comes into light. In Scene 9, she disapproves of Mitch turning the paper lantern on by exclaiming, “I don’t want realism. I want magic!” Her yearning to flee from reality and the notorious incident of her past is reflected in this remark. Blanche’s resistance to Mitch turning on the paper lantern represents her determination to retain the appearance of youth. It also portends the imminent breakdown of her frail self-esteem and her downward spiral into lunacy. Blanche’s dependence on liquor and intense sensuality render her even more imprudent. Her alcohol misuse serves as a form of self-medication as well as her undercurrent baths symbolic of both physical and emotional cleansing. Blanche takes a hot bath in Scene 9, which is reflective of her longing for both somatic and emotional purification. She spouts, “I need kindness now…yes, kindness,” as she sinks into the water. Similarly, her history of fleeting relationships reveal that she has used sexual encounters to escape her disreputable history whilst validating herself. The way Blanche is maltreated by those around her during 1940s New Orleans is a key example of the stigmatisation of mental health during this period. The non-diegetic music of the polka tune is an outward symbol of Blanche’s inner mental state. Blanche hears the Varsouviana polka tune parallel to previous moments, expressing signs of anxiety. She covers her ears and cries, “Flores para los muertos!,” as the music crescendos - flowers for the dead. The melody, which carries Blanche back to a distressing memory from her life, foreshadows her eventual plunge into deliration. Significantly, it always ceases whenever she manages to confront reality, [The polka music dies out again]. Because of her erratic outbursts which are interpreted as symptoms of insanity, she is ultimately shunned by Stella and Stanley. Today, mental illnesses are generally acknowledged as valid clinical conditions requiring specialised care as opposed to being ostracised. Although the possibility of a lobotomy is not stated, it can be inferred since Williams implements this play to depict the tragic fate of his sister, Rose. Intrinsically, this poignant possibility changes our preconceived notions regarding mental health.
As a result, Blanche’s fragility is an unsettling indictment on those who struggle to fit in with society. She further reveals the debilitating power dynamic that develops between people in positions of authority throughout her conflict with Stanley. The patriarchal basis of Stella and Stanley’s relationship, accentuates the ways in which women are frequently compelled to conform to the will of men in order to subsist, further complicating gender inequality. Through its poignant portrayal, the play prompts reflection on the broader social issues of conformity, inequality, and the profound effects they have on individuals navigating their lives.These components of the play serve as an influential criticism of the world in which we live, presenting readers with a perceptive glimpse of the challenges that many individuals encounter on a daily basis.