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The Conflict Between Stanley & Blanche in a Streetcar Named Desire

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"A Streetcar Named Desire works as a drama because of the

conflicts between Stanley and Blanche." Discuss.

The themes of A streetcar Named Desire are mainly built on conflict, the conflicts between men and women, the conflicts of race, class and attitude to life, and these are especially embodied in Stanley and Blanche. Even in Blanche's own mind there are conflicts of truth and lies, reality and illusion, and by the end of the play, most of these conflicts have been resolved.

At the beginning of the play, there is an equilibrium, Stanley and Stella have been living happily together in Elysian Fields, however the arrival of Blanche acts as a catalyst and immediately she begins to challenge their way of life with her values.

Blanche represents the Old American South, she was well educated, appreciates poetry and music, but The South is never glorified in the play, Blanche recollects the poverty and squalor of death there, "Funerals are pretty compared to death".

However the society that was insistent on cultural values, on beauty and loyalty is portrayed through Blanche's behaviour, and in her expectancy of others, "I guess ... I have - old fashioned ideals!"

In contrast Stanley represents the immigrant New American, he is "proud as hell" of being "one hundred per cent American", and can see no place for the old order of the Southern aristocracy who are incapable of holding on to their inherited wealth.

Stanley also represents the primitive side of man, and Blanche sees this, she describes him with insight in her speech in Scene Four, "Stanley Kowalski - survivor of the Stone Age!"

Stanley is very male in the sense that he feels men should be superior to women in every way. He likes to possess and control everything around him, he almost 'owns' Stella, and he has changed from her days at Belle Reve, pulling her "down off them columns and how [she] loved it". But the arrival of Blanche, and her aristocratic ways annoys Stanley, as Stella begins to revert to her old ways. Blanche encourages her to stand up to him, and continually stresses the difference in their levels, although Stanley is not ashamed that he "was common as dirt". Therefore, the only way that he can overcome Blanche and restore his authority is to beat her and triumph over her physically, which he eventually does. Although ironically, it is the effect of Stanley and his actions on her mind that finally provokes her downfall.

This male domination is emphasised with the use of the different games at key moments in the play, all involving the men and intentionally excluding the women. In the first scene the men go bowling, while the women run behind and watch, this establishes the role of each sex in the society in which they live. When Blanche asks to join in and "kibitz" in the first game of

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