A Street Car Names Desire as a Tragic Play

One of the most renowned plays in American literature is Tennessee William’s 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire. The events of the play indeed comprise a modern tragedy, which is undoubtedly attributed to the characters’ inability to accept changes and experience self-improvement. As a result, the characters attempt to carry out that, “No matter what happens, you’ve got to keep on going”, whilst failing to recognise that they need to transform their attitudes and behaviours in order to do so.

One of the most significant hindrances to the ability of characters in A Streetcar Named Desire to experience self-improvement and accept change is the overpowering nature of desire above logic. Stella fleas to Eunice’s house after being physically abused by her husband, Stanley. Eunice tells him that, “You can’t beat on a woman an’ call ‘er back! She won’t come”, conveying the logical response to remove oneself from an emotionally and physically dangerous situation. However, Stella almost immediately re-enters the situation by returning to Stanley as, “They come together with low animal moans”. The animalistic imagery portrays the fierce sexual desire that draws Stanley and Stella together. The irony of their behaviours proves that desire overrides the rational thoughts of security and social acceptance.   When it becomes clear to Blanche that Stanley is going to rape her, “She smashes a bottle on the table… So I [Blanche] could twist the broken end in your [Stanley’s] face”. It is clear that Blanche is strongly distressed by the threat. The social implication of committing any form of sexual violation is that of callousness and immorality. Yet, Stanley shows no mercy, saying, “Oh! So you want some rough-house! Al right, let’s have some rough-house!” before proceeding to rape Blanche. The use of innuendo desensitises the brutal seriousness of rape, focussing on the desire for sex and power that compels Stanley to commit a crime that may have harsh repercussions on Blanche, his...
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