In the play A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams, two of the main characters Blanche and Stanley create chaos within the household. The chaos results in tension, which is clearly noticeable from the very beginning of the play. This tension affects others around them, the main effect being on Stella (Stanley’s Wife). The animosity between Blanche and Stanley is based upon their different social backgrounds, their complete difference in personalities, and their belief that the other negatively impacts Stella.
The difference in their social backgrounds causes conflict between Stanley and Blanche. Stanley is from an immigrant family and is a proud member of the working class. On the other hand Blanche comes from a southern family where she was raised to see herself as socially elite. This is evident when Blanche says to Stella “Oh, I guess he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume. ” (Williams, 44) This comment about Stanley is Blanche’s way of stating that he lacks the ability to appreciate the fine taste, which she has. This is due to the fact that they were both raised with different social backgrounds.
As Tice Dace statesThough Blanche does not seem to have enough money to afford a hotel, she is disdainful of the cramped quarters of the Kowalskis’ two-room apartment and of the apartment’s location in a noisy, diverse, working-class neighborhood. Blanche’s social condescension wins her the instant dislike of Stella’s husband, an auto-parts supply man of Polish descent named Stanley Kowalski. (Dace, 1) Dace’s comment helps prove how the difference in social backgrounds causes arguments because it shows that Blanche is not content with staying in such a residence.
Blanche had become accustomed to staying at mansions such as Belle Reve before she came to her sister’s house. The effect of the different backgrounds leads to many disagreement between Stanley and Blanche. Blanche tries to convince Stella to “get hold of [herself] and make [herself] a new life! ” (Williams, 65) Blanche tries to get Stella to leave her husband because she believes that Stella can find someone who is of higher social class. Stanley secretly overhears this conversation between the females. Later on in the play Stanley starts an argument with Blanche regarding her past and how he heard rumors about what she had done.
In the play it is clearly evident how Blanche and Stanley come from very different social classes and how this difference leads to disputes between the two. The characteristics of Stanley and Blanche are also a major contributor to the conflict within the house. Stanley and Blanche have completely different personalities. Blanche clearly represents the world of fantasy, magic, and shadows. She consistently hides her face in the dark because of the paranoia of others seeing her ageing completion. Blanche lives behind a wall of many lies, which she has told other surrounding her past. Were as Stanley is the complete opposite to Blanche.
He is someone who expects others to lay their cards on the table. Stanley will not tolerate being lied too. He went to great lengths to expose the lies that Blanche had been telling him and Stella. Stanley tells Stella For the last year or two she has been washed up like poison. That’s why shehere this summer visiting royalty, putting on all this act because she’s practically told by the mayor to get out of town… She didn’t resign temporarily from the high school because of her nerves… They kicked her out of that high school before the spring term ended because of a seventeen-year-old boy-she’d gotten mixed up with! Williams, 100) This information Stanley had heard about Blanche was told to Mitch, who was at the time going on a date with Blanche. The dishonesty of Blanche caused tension with her and other characters in the play. The argument between Blanche and Mitch was the effect from the lies, which Blanche had told everyone. As a result the argument led to Mitch saying “I don’t think I want to marry you anymore… No, you’re not clean enough to bring into the house with my mother. ” (Williams, 120) Mitch said this after discovering all the secrets of Blanche’s past, which he had heard from Stanley.
Mitch discovered that she had been in several relationships that were not forthcoming to his expectations of her. These expectations were not sophisticated or purified enough to meet the qualities he wanted in a partner. This argument between Blanche and Mitch was a direct result of the difference in personalities between Blanche and Stanley. Both Stanley and Blanche believe that Stella is negatively impacted by the other’s influence. Blanche believes that Stella being with Stanley who is of lower class will bring her reputation down.
On the other hand Stanley believes that since Blanche has been residing within their home she has been changing Stella’s opinion of Stanley. This is evident when Stella tells Stanley “your face and your fingers are disgustingly greasy. Go and wash up and then help me clear the table. ” (Williams, 107) This shows how Stella is changing negatively in Stanley’s eyes due to the fact that she is giving him orders. Females during that time period were often treated as objects used only for the males needs. Females were not equals to males; they did not have the same rights, which males had.
As a result of this comment by Stella, Stanley explodes with anger and smashes a plate against the wall. After that act of violence Stanley says, “don’t ever talk that way to me! Pig – Polack – disgusting – vulgar – greasy! Them kind of words have been on your tongue and your sister’s too much around here! ” (Williams, 107) This is Stanley’s way of showing that he is the dominant one within their household. He shows this through using his masculinity by smashing pates and cups against the wall. This shows how Stanley believes that Stella is being negatively impacted by influence of Blanche.
In conclusion, the tension within the play was caused by the difference in characteristics between Blanche and Stanley, their different social classes, and how the other negatively impacts Stella. Blanche and Stanley’s personalities are completely different, this causes the two of them to argue about how Blanche had been lying to everyone around her. They also have different backgrounds, which leads to them yet again arguing. Stanley believes that Blanche is trying to change the feelings that Stella has for him by changing the way that Stella thinks of him. This play goes to show that opposites do not always attract.