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The Conflict of Gender and the Triumph of Patriarchy in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

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Jen Brunk

on 2 April 2013

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Transcript of The Conflict of Gender and the Triumph of Patriarchy in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

in "A Streetcar Named Desire" Transgression and Punishment Research Question Abstract Concentrating on the relationship between Blanche and Stanley, I want to explore how “Streetcar” typifies gendered spheres and the inherent conflict between unruly women, or atypical gender, and the patriarchy.

How do Stanley and Blanche fit into Western civilization’s ideals of male and female? And in what ways to they defy their gender roles? During my research, I used the following terms:

Tennessee Williams
"A Streetcar Named Desire"
Gender
Film AND Gender
Masculinity AND Femininity
Tennessee Williams AND Gender
Rape OR Sexual Assault
Depictions of gender
Patriarchy Search Terms I evaluated my sources through a three step process:

Skimmed each article. Discarding those that only discussed the film or particular performances.
Read and summarized the remaining articles.
I kept those that were Peer Reviewed and dealt with sex, gender, and psychoanalysis.
I reread the few remaining articles and took detailed notes.
I then tagged and highlighted any sections I wished to quote in my final essay. Evaluating Sources While exploring existent scholarship on the play and film, I discovered that many critics have dissected Blanche and Stanley's masochistic relationship; however, few discuss the relationships in the terms of the transgression of gender spheres.

With this in mind, I decided to focus on tradition gender roles, specifically Blanche's transgression of the feminine sphere and what conclusions we can draw from Blanche's rape at the hands of the traditionally masculine Stanley. How I Developed My Thesis In my article, I explore the ways in which Stanley, a figure fully entrenched in masculine ideals and representative or patriarchal authority, clearly and inevitably conflicts with Blanche, a figure of traditional femininity whose tendrils of insanity and vulnerability leak from the neat domestic realm. Because she violates the domestic sphere, Blanche, unlike Stella, clearly sees the true nature of Stanley's brutality. In many ways, Blanche and Stanley double each other; both can be cruel, brash, and unforgivably sexual. Despite their similarities, society has already exactingly demarcated their proper gender roles. Stanley acts as a representative of the patriarchy as his dogged search for the truth breaks Blanche down. In many ways, they did have that "date with each other from the beginning" (1464). Stanley's climactic rape of Blanche declares a winner in this battle of the sexes. With Stellla's sanction, Stanley finally removes Blanche's unruliness, her disturbance from their domestic lives. Sample Annotated Bibliography Tennessee Williams and Streetcar." Modern Drama 38.4 (Winter 1995): 324-335. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 8 Nov. 2012. In this article, Fleche discusses madness and the use of claustrophobic space in Streetcar. She focuses on the parallels of desire and madness particularly in the case of Blanche. She takes a psychoanalytical approach to the text. This source will be very useful in my discussion of the Blanche/Stanley conflict and it’s sexual ramifications. Thesis In “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Tennessee Williams draws a definitive line between the genders. Patience, legitimate desire, and spousal loyal occupy the feminine sphere while impatience, aggression, and violent, sexual desire define the masculine sphere. By placing Blanche, whose madness and sexual promiscuity transgress the traditional feminine sphere, in direct conflict with Stanley, a bastion of animal maleness, Williams not only declares the natural animosity between the unruly female and patriarchy, but also declares a victor. When Stanley rapes Blanche, he at once consummates their volatile relationship and punishes Blanche for violating traditional gender roles. Search Results My search terms returned a myriad of results, too many results.

In order to narrow my results, I only looked at Peer Reviewed articles and eliminated all results in languages other than English.

While my results were now fewer, I still needed to eliminate more.

Because my research questions does not touch on psychoanalysis or draw any real world parallels, I also removed all articles with a psychoanalytic approach or that dealt with domestic violence. Fleche, Anne. "The Space of Madness and Desire: Choosing My Sources Ultimately, of the articles I chose to read, ten seemed not only pertinent, but also necessary to my argument.

Though only ten of the articles are necessary, I had to familiarize myself with the bulk of "Streetcar" scholarship.

Because "Streetcar" is considered a classic, and controversial drama, the body of scholarship is tremendous.

In order to be taken seriously as a scholar, I must show knowledge and mastery of the subject.
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