A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1951 film adaptation of a play written by Tennessee Williams in 1947. The film presents a story of Blanche Dubois a southern belle from Oriole in Mississippi. Blanche is a school teacher who moves to New Orleans after losing her family home in Mississippi. Being the protagonist, Williams uses her character to explore themes of dependence on men, immorality, inability to overcome reality, and the relationship between sex and death. The film starts by the arrival of Blanche in New Orleans where she moves in with her Stella, her younger sister. Stanley, Stella’s husband does not get along with Blanche and by this; the film is filled with dramas caused by the antagonism between them.
Stanley Kowalski is the antagonist in the film as he constantly quarrels with Blanche and everyone around him throughout the narrative. Their personalities are exceptionally different contributing to their inability to tolerate each other. Blanche’s dark past is used by Stanley in ruining her life and destroying her reputation to the people that matter to her. It is for this reason that Blanche advises her sister to leave his husband claiming that she made a terrible mistake marrying Stanley.
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Stanley Kowalski is surely the antagonist as we can see Blanche, the protagonist antagonizing him severally. To begin with, the whole drama of convincing Stella to leave him is one act of antagonism to Stanley. Additionally, the bond between Stella and Blanche denies Stella the chance to be the antagonist. On the other hand, Stanley’s character as the violent man and an enemy to the protagonist automatically makes him the antagonist. This is evident when he hit Stella and goes ahead to rape her sister, Blanche.
The author portrays Blanche as the source of all problems affecting other people and herself. The problems portrayed here are both social and economic. The attempt by this particular character to conceal her past from other people makes the situation volatile. She brings her problems by engaging in illicit sexual relationships with unfit people, including underage. She finds herself treated like an outcast and attempts to build her life proof futile as any new persons in her life are alienated by her dark past and actions. She is also portrayed as an irresponsible and impatient sister. This is further proofed by the symbolic approach taken by the writer. He states that Blanche travels in a streetcar in a route called desire. This portrays her desires in high levels and deep sensation. The sister, Stella Kowalski, appears sober and determined. This can be observed by the fact that she is involved in an abusive and humiliating marriage.
Blanche is the paramount character in the story, and every factor and consideration revolves around her. She is a sister to Stella, although their characters are distinctly different. She is a divorcee and a former teacher. She has a broken life, surrounded by mysterious, but real challenges. She has no principles of herself, and she is led by her desires to an unknown destination. The sexual desire in her making is so strong that it makes her lead a totally abnormal life, which makes her sister sad and concerned. Blanche has desires that make her look irrational and inconsiderate (Williams 35). They are powerful and of extensive negative consequences.
The play is an illustration of a broken and desperate society trying to rebuild itself to normalcy. The play portrays a society affected by immoralities and mistrust among members. The society is infiltrated by divorce, sexual immorality and domestic abuse. The capacity of characters therein to stand these forces determines their characters and judgments. The principal characters in the storyline are Blanche, Stella and Stanley. These characters have distinct characteristics that define each of them differently. The three are combined to bring out a state where the society is running on different but parallel laws and rules of living. The comparison of characters and behaviors makes the audience hate or love them.
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On the other hand, Stanley is always against her and uses her dark past to destroy her relationships. She is in the play portrayed as a fading attractive southern beauty. She is further viewed as a pretender who tends to believe that she is still beautiful and noble. She portrays herself as a great adherent of virtue and social culture, which she is not. Rather, she is an alcoholic and desperate individual with wild sexual behavior. In her attempt to convince other people of her care to them, she hides her true alienation in herself. She appears to protect others, but, in the real sense, she protects herself. She hides from other people, her desperation and affliction of life. Indeed, she is broken and miserable from her past, which she tries in vain to change and bring herself to a new life. All this is done in an attempt to attract new suitors in life who, she hopes, will bring happiness and comfort into her life. Unfortunately, most of them discover her life before anything mature comes up.
On arrival at her sister’s home in French Quarters in New Orleans, she lies that she has been given an off by the employer. This portrays another character on her part, a liar. She is fired for being in a relationship with an underage, a 17 year old boy, who is also her student. These facts further prove that he is a sex pest. The fact that she condemns her sister for being in a sexual inclined relationship with an abusive husband brings out the fact she is critical and unappreciative of her sister and husband’s support.
William uses Blanche’s character to create antagonism between her and Stanley, and by this, Stanley is portrayed as the rival to the protagonist, making him the antagonist. Blanche’s stay at her sister’s house is difficult and unfriendly, especially from her brother in law. This is worsened by the fact that hosts come to know the truth about her actions and feel that she has the potential to bring down their relationship. It is also evident that she causes an extended suffering to her younger sister to extent of putting her marriage in jeopardy. This comes out clear when the brother in law rapes her. In this particular context, she portrays a character of an individual who is insensitive and arrogant. She also appears to be someone who is ready to take substantial risks to achieve her immoral and unreasonable desires. This is portrayed in two instances. The first instance is where she puts up her job and independency by engaging herself with an underage. She loses her job and subsequently, her independence.
Consequences of this are going to live with a sister as a dependent person, who relies on her not particularly able sister. The second instance is observed in the film (Skiba 24). She seems to make attempts to seduce hosts friends and, to some extent, her sister’s husband. This makes her brother in law, who seems to have some unusual attention, start viewing her as a sexual object, and he even goes ahead to try and seduce her back. Blanche does not seem to care about her sister’s opinion and feelings in doing this. At the end of it all, she is raped by the brother in law, thus, placing her sister’s relationship in a compromising position.
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On her positive side, she appears to be friendly and outgoing. She easily bonds with people and appears charming. This is portrayed when she easily bonds with her brother’s in law workmate. Conversely, this creates tension between Blanche and Stanley and the two becomes rivals. It is only her past that drives her new catch away, but, not her charm and general outlook. The extent of her vulnerability and miserable luck is portrayed in several instances. She is first married to a husband who cheats on her with a gay partner. This breaks her heart, and she feels misused (Murphy 46). This is made worse when her divorcee husband, Allan Grey, commits suicide. The employer discovers on her relationship with a student, and she loses her job. This drives her away from her place to her sister’s house, where she is to meet more misfortunes, her new suitor and potential fiancée discovers her past and sets off putting her off balance. This is worsened by the rape ordeal, and she finally suffers from a brain condition which means her unfortunate destiny.
Stella is a victim of circumstances and defenseless. She suffers for her kindness and patience. Everyone who associates with her appears to be the source of one misfortune or the other. Compared to her sister, she is different and focused. She seems more settled and willing to live a stable and morally straight life. She is married to Stanley, an abusive man who seems to like her for sexual function, rather than the wife purpose. The writer describes the relationship, as one sustained by an extreme sexual chemistry. This amazes her sister who sees it as abnormal. She wonders the sense of being in she hangs on to such a marriage. Stella is patient and hardened in several ways. She hangs on to the marriage, despite the extent of abuse and signs of unfaithfulness on her husband’s part.
Williams portrays her as a loving, charming and encouraging character. She welcomes her sister and gives her the best treatment at her place, despite her husband’s resistance and defiance. She goes ahead to take up the suffering for her older sister. She keeps up the cost of her sister’s upkeep and hopes that her sister gets a new home and job. She is also portrayed as the one who suffers misfortunes and heartbreaks along the way. She, for example, gets her sister not caring about her social and economic status and goes ahead to settle at her place. This is extended when the two of them start having some sexual attraction, which culminates to the husband’s raping the sister. This brings to her the reality that the husband is not worth having her as a wife. The sister’s depression, which finally leads her to a serious mental problem, also sees her suffer psychologically and mentally.
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Stanley who is the protagonist is Stella’s husband and appears to be just after sex. This is portrayed when the writer talks about the sex chemistry between the couple. He is portrayed as the one who will go to any extent to get what he wants. He is further viewed as brutal and insensitive. He lacks empathy and deep understanding of other people’s opinions and feelings. He is also inquisitive and immoral. He abuses his wife, both physically and sexually. He appears brutal and murderous. He uses Stella as a sexual object rather than a wife figure. He also appears to have sexual interests outside the marriage. This is portrayed when he tries to seduce Blanche (Skiba 24).
He is brutal to everyone; he is not only abusive to his wife, but also treats Blanche cold when she comes up at their home. This is further seen when he reveals her details to a friend who was interested in her. This shows a high level on insensitivity. His capacity of being brutal is seen when he rapes Blanche. This breaks Blanche leading her to mental complications. He creates her destiny in a brutal and hostile manner.
Blanche views her sister as naive and inexperienced in life. She stays to wonder why she should be in an abusive relationship. She also views her as loving and supportive. This explains why she came over to her place after she lost almost everything in her life. She knew it was only her sister who would take care of her in and give her a new life and hope. On her part, Stella views her older sister as a grownup who is charming. She views her as loving and charming. She also views her as brave and who can change tremendous challenges and still remain strong. She also trusts her and tends to believe whatever theory she tells her. She does not seem to know or understand her dark past. She does not also tend to care and, thus, does not go out looking for facts as it is with her husband. She views her sister as innocent, inexperienced and the one who is not favored by fate. The two view each other with suspicion. The two are of low moral standards. They, thus, tend to investigate each other secretly. Their suspicion and mistrust comes to life when Stanley finally rapes Blanche, breaking whatever is remaining of her miserable life.
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The play tries to portray some characters as protagonists in lives of others. It is obvious that Stella, in this case, is the only individual who is considerate of other characters’ feelings and opinions. She seems to put other people’s feelings first in her decisions. Stanley, on the other hand, seems to be selfish and self-centered. He is after female characters for the sexual satisfaction. He is abusive and disrespectful. He does not seem to care who suffers and who is hurt, as long as he achieves his desires. He also does not seem to give other people a second chance to change their lives. He reports on Blanche to his friends, making her lose her final chance of ever getting settled in life.
Blanche seems to be in competition with herself and her life. She seems to compete with powerful forces, which at all the time seem to bring her down. She competes with her employer, sister and brother in law. She is an aggressor who tries to let everyone down in her profound and self-brewed misfortune (Shoilevska 103). She loses the battle and succumbs to her predetermined fate but also destroys other people’s lives on her path to the end.
In conclusion, Stanley appears to be the antagonist in this particular case. He seems to be after destruction of lives of individuals in the story line. He ruins the lives of the two sisters, Blanche and Stella. He uses Stella as a sex object and abuses her physically. He also causes her emotional pain when he rapes her sister. He also leads to great suffering of Blanche. He ruins her chances of getting settles in life. He spies on her and gives the negative information to a potential fiancé. He also makes her more miserable by raping her; however, this marks the end of his life.