Study Guide

A Streetcar Named Desire Men and Masculinity

By Tennessee Williams

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Men and Masculinity

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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

  1. Stella thinks that Stanley’s aggression is attractive and exciting, while Blanche is terrified by it. What explains their different reactions?
  2. Does the play condemn or condone Stanley’s type of masculinity? What or whom does Streetcar hold up as an ideal form of masculinity?
  3. 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.

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