A Streetcar Named Desire
by Tennessee Williams
A Streetcar Named Desire Theme of Men and Masculinity
The sheer animal force of antagonist Stanley Kowalski is partly responsible for the fame of A Streetcar Named Desire. In this play, masculinity means aggression, control, physical dominance, and even violence. Accompanying these traits are a general lack of refinement, manners, and sensitivity. One point of view expressed in the play is that this sort of brute masculinity is primitive and sub-human; another is that it is attractive and sexually appealing.
Questions About Men and Masculinity
- Stella thinks that Stanley’s aggression is attractive and exciting, while Blanche is terrified by it. What explains their different reactions?
- Does the play condemn or condone Stanley’s type of masculinity? What or whom does Streetcar hold up as an ideal form of masculinity?
- Why does Mitch hit Stanley at the end of the play?
Chew on This
The conflict between Blanche and Stanley boils down to different ideals of masculinity.