Tennessee Williams’s drama “A Streetcar Named Desire” is one of the most renowned plays in the history of American literature. It is particularly well-known for the central conflict between Blanche DuBois and her brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski. The dispute between Blanche and Stanley stems from the two distinctly different backgrounds and their opposing worldviews. It can be argued that the two characters repeatedly come to a conflict because Blanche denies the truth and Stanley’s insensitive pursuit of it.
In the play, Blanche and Stanley represent two starkly different worlds: one of aristocracy and one of a brusque working class. The two make little effort to understand each other’s lives and motivations. Blanche sees her brother-in-law as a brute, capable of things that are frowned upon in a civilized society. She states that there is “something ape-like about him,” hinting that he is not as sophisticated or intelligent as a man should be in her opinion (Williams 64). Meanwhile, for Stanley, Blanche is the symbol of the old world that is not accessible to him. There is an attraction to something novel and unknown both experience each other. However, it is accompanied by disgust, envy, and refusal to accept each other’s worlds which continually leads to conflict.
Blanche’s refusal to acknowledge the truth of her situation and Stanley’s incessant attempts to uncover it also results in tension between them. Blanche is a deeply conflicted character even before she meets her sister’s husband as she denies the reality of her family’s misfortune to herself. She still behaves and thinks as a wealthy woman and fantasizes about a rich suitor saving her from living with Stanley and Stella. This conduct angers her brother-in-law, who constantly tries to expose her lies and pretense to Stella and his friend who shows interest in Blanche, Mitch. On one occasion, he implores Stella to open her eyes to the things in Blanche’s possession, asking, “You think she got them out of a teacher’s pay?” (Williams 31). Stanley despises his sister-in-law for clinging to her former position in the world while living under his roof, while Blanche cannot accept the truth of her being a poor, old, widowed woman dependent on others. The friction between Blanche and Stanley is the perpetual conflict between fantasy and reality, with the latter brutally destroying the former.
Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire is well-known for its portrayal of Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski as symbols of two opposing worlds. The drama’s central dispute is the embodiment of the continual conflict between people of different classes and the clash of fantasy and reality. The two characters refuse to accept each other’s worlds despite mutual attraction. While Blanche tries to escape the reality of her situation in lies and fantasies, Stanley wants her to acknowledge the truth to herself and everyone else regardless of how it affects her.
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New Directions Publishing, 2004.