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Gender/Sexuality in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

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Sydney Makena

on 22 January 2015

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Transcript of Gender/Sexuality in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

Gender/Sexuality in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'
Why Sexuality is important in the play:
Blanche and Stanley's sexual tension
Blanche's sexual desire
Stella's and Stanley's sexual relationship and its effect on Blanche
Main examples of Gender Issues in the play:
Stanley's dominant and violent personality
Stella's submission and obedience to Stanley
Mitch's sensitivity and how others react to it
Blanche's defiance of many of the stereotypical behaviour of women in this time
Jessica, Marlena, and Sydney
Blanche is promiscuous but tries to hide this from others - she is guilty and ashamed of her past
After her husband dies, she seeks out confort by sleeping with different men
She pretends to be sexually innocent with Mitch
Blanche is very concerned with how other people see her - this links to her compulsively lying to everyone around her.
Blanche's sexuality contrasts with Stella, because Stella is a married woman and doesn't have to feel guilty about her sexual life
Example #1
"Blanche moves back into the streak of light. She raises her arms and stretches, as she moves indolently back to the chair." (54)
Blanche uses her sexual appeal to influence men, similar to how Stanley depends heavily on his masculinity
Blanche is seen to be very delicate, elegant and feminine, which links to the portrayl of women in this time
Blanche's addiction to alcohol is very important because, in that time, men were the ones that were expected to drink heavily.
Blanche represents the women of the 1940s who were beginning to seek out careers. Blanche is an English teacher.
Gender with Stella
Gender roles were really important in this time. The man was the breadwinner and was supposed to take care of the woman, while the woman was supposed to be the home maker.
Example: when Stanley maes a big mess the night he beat Stella, the morning after she was cleaning it all up
Also in Scene 1 when Stanley throws the meat at Stella, it was very symbolic because he got the dinner(hunter) not Stella has to make it into something
Interesting how Stella chooses Stanley over Blanche
Could be because she felt like it was the only way to survive
Gender roles are also very evident when Stella takes a bit of a stand against Stanley.
Back then in a dysfunctinal family like that, the husband expected a certain degree of repect. And when Stella tries to tell Stanley what to do or speaks out, its can be seen as disrespectful and maybe a strike at Stanley's masculinity
But because Stella occasionally steps out, it shows she doesn't conform to gender roles.
Gender Examples
"Drunk-drunk-animal thing, you"(3.62)
"Stanley charges after Stella"(3.63)(stage direction)
Shows that when Stella steps out of her gender prescribed place, Stanley really trips out
Sexuality and Stella
Stella is committed to a single man
She seems to be attracted to Stanley's primalness for example when he was smashing lights
After Stanley beats Stella, she runs back to Stanley and they end up having sex which suggests that their love is very passionate and even conquers Stanley's anger
Examples of Sexuality
When Stanley was smashing the bulbs on the wedding night Stella, "was-sort-of-thrilled by it."(4.73)
Shows that Stella is attracted to Stanley, brutish behavior and all.
Blanche's sexual desire causes her to flirt with strangers - even very young men
Example #2
"Come here. I want to kiss you, just once, softly and sweetly on the mouth!
[Without waiting for him to accespt, she crosses quickly to him and presses her lips to his]
Now run along, now, quickly! It would be nice to keep you, but I've got to be good - and keep my hands off children" (99)
Example #1
“Blanche looks after [Mitch] with a certain interest” (51).
Despite Blanche being intelligent, she is also very flirty, especially with Mitch, which was stereotypical for many women in that time.
Example #2
"Now don't get worried, your sister hasn't turned into a
drunkard, she's just all shaken up and hot and tired and dirty!" (12)
Despite the fact that it was seen as normal for men to be drunk, it was very strange for a woman to drink a lot of alcohol.

· Stanley’s masculinity is exaggerated
· Feels that he has to be the dominant habitant in the house.
· Bright strong primary colors
· Very animalistic “animal joy is in his being”
· Like a hunter bringing food back from the prowl
· “the gaudy seed-bearer”
· Has no respect for Stella
“Since earliest manhood the center of his life has been pleasure with women”
· “He sizes women up at a glance, with sexual classifications, crude images flashing into his mind and determining the way he smiles at them.”
· Stanley seems to objectify women only seeing them as pleasure objects, and has no respect for his wife.
Blanche discovers Allan in bed with his best friend (hes gay)
Blanche later says she is disgusted by him
Allan kills himself, maybe because hes ashamed
"I saw! I know! You disgust me…"(6.115)
What Blanche says to Allan on the dance floor after catching him
Homosexuality was very taboo back then
Mitch is often the butt of Stanley’s jokes as he comes across as being the most sensitive male in their group.
· He lives with and cares for his mother even though he’s a grown man and his crew makes fun of him for that.
· He thinks he needs a wife to take home to his mother
Mitch comes across as very lonely
· Pursues Blanche
· Tries very hard to come on to Blanche when they begin kissing on their date
· Even when he no longer sees her as wife material he makes sexual advances on her, but proceeds to call her dirty.
He was described as being “sweet”
Wanted to be a poet

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