Themes in A Streetcar Named Desire

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  • Themes in A Streetcar Named Desire
    • Men and Masculinity
      • In this play, masculinity means aggression, control, physical dominance and even violence, along with a lack of refinement, manners and sensitivity
      • One point of view from this play is that this brute masculinity is primitive and sub-human, whereas another interpretation is that it is sexually attractive and appealing
    • Society and Class
      • Addresses class differences in New Orleans during the 1940s
      • Conflicting point of views, one from a Southern Belle with outdated ideals about the social elite and those she considers 'below' her, and that of a more opposing and modern point of view that Americans are Americans and immigrants are a foundation of the US
      • Neither Stella nor Stanley takes class into consideration when regarding their relationship - they exist outside of social boundaries (much like in Othello)
    • Sex
      • Sex is presented as a destructive force, which is represented in many forms such as literal death, physical violence, mental degradation, and even financial ruin
      • Lust is the only unifying force between Stanley and Stella
      • Blanche tries to use sex to recapture her youth
    • Drugs and Alcohol
      • Alcohol is used as a means of escape, as Blanche uses it as a distraction from reality and to retreat further into a world of fantasy
        • Habitual drinking wasn't ideal for a woman's reputation in the 1940's, so the habit was often hidden of disguised
        • Blanche's increased drinking marks her descent into madness
      • For the male gender, alcohol is often tied to physical aggression and plays a part in the play's worst violence
    • Madness
      • The play features a gradual descent into madness, brought about by loss, depression, financial ruin and the cruelty of others
      • At first, this 'madness' is an attempted escape from reality, but then as the play progress, this self-deception intensifies and deviates further and further from reality


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