DO NOT TURN THIS PAPER IN!! ESPECIALLY IF YOU ATTEND THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE - KNOXVILLE,
AND HAVE MARILYN HARDWIG FOR A PROFESSOR. THANKS - ASHLEY
In the play, A Streetcar Named Desire, author Tennessee Williams does a
wonderful job developing the character of Stanley Kowalski. To me, his character
seemed most like that of a true person. On the other hand, Stella, Stanley's wife,
is mainly displayed as being the loving type, and because that is basically the only
character trait she displays, it is difficult to really understand her as a person. The
character of Stanley Kowalski is developed much like a real person, having
numerous personality traits.One characteristic of Stanley is his rudeness and cruelty towards Blanche,
Stella's sister. It is very apparent that Stanley does not care for Blanche. Scene
eight mentions Blanche's birthday party, and surprisingly, she receives a gift from
Stanley. This gift, however, is not one that most people would appreciate.
Blanche is very surprised to get a gift from Stanley, and as she opens it she says,
"Why,why-Why, it's a-" (Williams 111). This is the first indication that there is
something the matter. Because Blanche can't finish her sentence, Stanley lets
everyone know that it's a "Ticket! Back to Laurel! On the Greyhound!
Tuesday!" (Williams 111). Blanche obviously couldn't finish her sentence because
she was insulted that her birthday present implied that she was not welcome by
Stanley. Even Stella knew how rude and cruel Stanley had acted towards Blanche.
Stella lets Stanley know, "You needn't have been so cruel..." (Williams 111). In
scene ten, Stanley says to Blanche, "Take a look at yourself in that worn-out
Mardi Gras outfit, rented for fifty cents from some rag-picker! And with the crazy
crown on! What queen do you think you are?" (Williams 127). This quote shows
that Blanche's physical appearance has also been insulted and put down by
Stanley. Although Stanley may not like Blanche, and may be cruel toward her, he
still has a very loving and caring side. A very apparent character trait of Stanley is his love for his wife, Stella. In
scene two, Stella and Stanley notice all the very nice things that Blanche has in her
trunk. For Blanche being a poor girl, Stanley knows that she shouldn't have so
many nice things. Stanley expresses his concern to Stella as he says, "It looks like
you have been swindled, baby..." (Williams 35). This shows that Stanley only
wants for Stella what she deserves, and if Blanche is not sharing what money is
also Stella's, then it upsets him. Normand Berlin, author of "Complementarity in A
Streetcar Named Desire" also agrees that Stanley is much in love for Stella. He
states that "Stanley, himself a garish sun, claims Stella, the star" (100). As much
as Stanley loves and cares for Stella, he has a tendency to act the other way, not so
loving. The aggressiveness of Stanley is probably his most evident character trait
expressed through out the play. One might not think that a simple game of poker
with the boys could turn so violent when a couple women walk in the room.
Stanley's poker game must be very important to him in order for him to lose
complete control and get physical with Stella. At the start of his outrage, the other
men playing poker try to calm him down, "Take it easy, Stanley. Easy fellow"
(Williams 57). However, Stanley does not listen, and instead causes Stella to
threaten Stanley as her own defense, by saying, "You lay your hands on me and
I'll-" (Williams 57). Stanley's anger is now out of control. While no one can see
what is going on with Stanley and Stella, the stage direction mentions "There is
the sound of a blow. Stella cries out" (Williams 57). Stanley is not only
aggressive with Stella, but Blanche as well. In scene ten, Stanley and Blanche get
into a quarrel. Blanche breaks a bottle and threatens Stanley by saying, "So I
could twist the broken end in your face!" (Williams 130). Stanley's strength is
much more than that of Blanche, and therefore was able to grab her wrist and
cause her to drop the bottle. As all of this is going on, Stanley says, "Oh! So you
want some rough-house! All right, let's have some rough-house!" (Williams 130).
This evidence points directly toward the fact that Stanley is a very aggressive
person. Through out the play, Tennessee Williams does a great job keeping the
reader questioning the character of Stanley Kowalski. As a whole character,
Stanley cannot be described with one character trait. In A Theater Divided: The
Postwar American Stage, Martin Gottfried also shares that Stanley has many
character traits. Gottfried states, "He is brutal and stupid, operating almost
entirely on animal reflex, but his vitality is the energy of life and his love for Stella
is absolute and real" (252). He is, in my mind, the most developed character to
represent a real person.
Berlin, Normand. "Complementarity in A Streetcar Named Desire." Tennessee
Williams: A Tribute. Ed. Jac Tharpe. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1997. 97-103.
Gottfried, Martin. A Theater Divided: The Postwar American Stage. Boston:
Little, Brown, 1967.
Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. New York: First Signet