Is Stanley Kowalski a Tragic Villain

Is Stanley Kowalski simply a tragic villain? A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams in 1947 is a play that is perceived with the variance between a man and his sister-in-law.

Stanley Kowalski immediately captures the attention of the audience through Williams’ excellent portrayal of the intensely strong willed character, furthermore Williams forms Stanley into an exceedingly masculine character who will always have his way or no way and makes his opinions vey clear to those around him “why don’t you women go up and sit with Eunice” this declaration from Stanley shows that he his very sexist, this was very typical of men’s attitudes to women in the 1940’s because the patriarchal society at the time meant that men wanted control over women, as men felt they were far superior to women, because of this Stanley has more of a hubris persona as his actions and ambitions led to the protagonist of the play having a harmartia.

A tragic villain is a character, normally an antagonist that does not truly intend to be a villain.

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So in Stanley’s case, Stanley can be alleged as an tragic villain as he is violent towards to Stella, for paradigm hitting her and using animalistic behaviour towards other women, which was an example of a stereotypical male in the 1940’s as they wanted to be in have supremacy over women, conversely he is being aggressive because he is aggravated by the fact that Blanche is living with the couple and inspiring trouble between them.

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At the start it is very translucent that Stanley does not have anything in opposition to Blanche for instance when the twosome first meet Stanley is very interested in Blanche’s past “what do you teach, Blanche? ” This indicates that Stanley is very intrigued by her sister-in-laws past and wants to get to know her; this shows he is not a tragic villain at this phase of the play as he has not yet shown signs of being an antagonistic.

Conversely, on the other hand Stanley is teasing Blanche by taking his shirt off, this shows his ambidextrous side “Do you mind if I make myself comfortable? (He starts to remove his shirt). This confirms that even though he asked her if he could take it off he had already started to take it off before she answered the question. This also confirms that Blanche is not incongruous as she use to work in laurel where prostitution was a common trade and Blanche was also involved in the prostitution industry. This could foreshadow future events as the connotations of a prostitute as she is very flirtatious toward Mitch “voulez- vous couchez avec moi ce soir? Vous ne comprenez pas? Ah, quell dommage! Blanche is manipulating Mitch and playing mind games with Mitch’s intelligence, this is an exemplar why Stanley is a tragic villain because he wants Blanche to abscond because she is tarnishing his family and friends with duplicitous behaviour especially towards Stella “sister and I in desperate situation” this is ambidextrous for many reasons for example she has no money (’65 cents’) and in addition Stella is exceedingly contented with the affiliation with Stanley especially as they had sexual intercourse earlier on in scene 4. All the same they are also expecting a baby in the upcoming future; this could foreshadow future events as Stanley doesn’t want Blanche to be involved with the upbringing of the baby.

The features of a tragedy that is included here is the fatal flaw as the fact that Blanche has no money which leads to her hamartia because she cannot help get away because of her financial issues. An example of peripateia was when Stanley confronted Blanche about her facade; resulting in Blanche breaking down and therefore Stanley took advantage of her vulnerability which result in the audiences pathos starting to sympathize with Blanche because she had no potency to fight back, conversely the audiences pathos towards Stanley would be miscellaneous as some of the audience would sympathize with Stanley since he is trying to protect his Stella and the possibility of a baby on the way, however the audience could become slightly more aroused as we see his Neanderthal behaviour come apart.

His Neanderthal, animalistic and aggressive behaviour means he could well be the signs of a tragic villain as he shows his antagonist characteristics. Furthermore Stanley can suggest that his animalistic behaviour is down to Blanche Dubois. She is Stanley’s sister-in-law and lived at ‘belle reve’ which means beautiful dream, nevertheless it also ironic as she has had to mortgage the house and most of her family has died whilst living there. Her name means white one from the woods and the connotations of her name is innocence, which is an exemplar of dramatic irony as she displays many acts in the play that contrast to that of innocence and purity.

An example of Blanche not being pure is when she says “I’ve got to keep hold of myself” this statement from Blanche shows she has mental flaws and is addicted to the drink. She also shows she is not innocent and dependable “your sister hasn’t turned into a drunkard” this shows she is prepared to lie to her sister and it could also foreshadow future tragedy as comparable behaviour towards Stanley could result in enemies being created “liquor goes fast in hot conditions” this shows she is also prepared to deceive Stanley as well. As Stanley believes he is a misogynistic as he feels men are far superior to women as did most men in the 1940’s. So if he has any suspicions about being deceived by a woman then he would want to get revenge because Stanley doesn’t like to be manipulated, especially by a woman.

Therefore he could not be a tragic villain because the definition of a tragic villain is someone who does not intend to be a villain; therefore he wants Blanche out of Stella’s life because he is beginning to work out that Blanche may perhaps stir up confrontations between Stanley and Stella because Stanley doesn’t want her there and Stella does which could foreshadow future death as Stanley wants to control Stella as he is an misogynistic and wants Stella to think the same to what he does. Furthermore, Stanley could be not be seen as a “tragic villain as Stanley’s intense hatred of Blanche is motivated in part by the aristocratic past Blanche represents” this declaration shows that Blanche could be a tragic villain instead of Stanley because Blanche is the character that is making the problems of the play for example she doesn’t confess about her addiction to alcohol which in turn makes Stanley agitated because he is an alpha-male and wants to be a misogynistic. As Stanley is not controlling Blanche he becomes eager to maneuver Blanche out of his family’s life.

Stanley does this by giving her a ticket out of town “ just to make sure I bought her ticket myself” this deusexmochina from Stanley shows he has qualities of a protagonist as he is trying to protect his family after Blanche the problems that have led her to her hubris, this shows she could be the antagonist and the tragic villain as she is the one causing the problems for Stanley and Stella “ our supply man down at the plant had been going through Laurel for years and he knows all about her and everybody else in the town of Laurel knows about her”. Blanche is therefore showing signs of an antagonist because she is not trustworthy. In addition, Blanche is a perfect example of many features of a tragedy for instance she has a fatal flaw for paradigm she lies and cannot be trusted which ultimately leads to her hubris because of the harmartia she has portrayed in the play. Additionally, Williams has portrayed Blanche to have external pressures that mean she could be the ragic villain as she doesn’t want to tell anyone about her repulsive past including a “seventeen-year-old-boy-she’d gotten mixed up with! ” because of what she has done she has not intended to be a prostitute, conversely she has been led to this as she was lonely after her ‘degenerate’ husband died, the definition of a tragic villain is someone who does not intend to be a villain however she can be seen as an antagonist because of the problems she caused for Stella and Stanley. Moreover, Stanley could be seen as a tragic villain as he starts to turn against Blanche “sister Blanche is no lily” this is an illustration of dramatic irony as the connotations of lily’s are natural and pure, conversely Blanche is not guiltless and is living an artificial life.

This could be a symbol with the purpose of Stanley irritating Blanche to the point where Blanche can no longer be in contact with Stella, because Stanley feels Blanche is causing conflict and doesn’t like the piece of evidence that he is no longer the centre of attention. We also see Stanley’s brutal and antagonistic side since he strikes Stella even though he is drunk, Tennessee Williams does this because he too also has drink problems and can relate to Stanley. Tennessee Williams can relate to Stanley because Williams drank alcohol to forget about the problems he had in his life for instance the death of his partner Merlo, therefore Stanley could be drinking because of the problems he has in his life for example the issues he has with Blanche so like Williams is drowning his sorrows.

This therefore, could imply future events as Stanley has already hurt his wife so there’s no stopping undertaking the same actions towards other people. Furthermore, the phallic symbol here is that Stella doesn’t mind, I was sort of thrilled by it”, Stella is suggesting here that she adores the wild side to Stanley and that is what attracted her towards him. However Blanche cannot take the wild side of Stanley as she is very fragile and could foreshadow future tragedy as she has no energy to fight back. There are references to Blanche that could signal the end of her life in the future, for exemplar, changing into the ‘red satin wrapper’ which could symbolise death as the connotations of death are red and blood.

And as Stanley is aggressive he is the most expected to hurt Blanche because he has already hurt his wife and also detests her sister. In conclusion, I believe Stanley is not a tragic villain as “Blanche is dangerous. She is destructive. She would soon have him and Stella fighting”. Because of this I believe Blanche is the antagonist as she is the character who is causing the problems and conflict between Stanley and Stella. And Stanley decides to act upon this because he recognises the fact that with Blanche around she could ruin the relationship.


  1. 1811 words http://www. cercles. com/n10/bak. pdf http://www. sparknotes. com/lit/streetcar/canalysis. html#Stanley-Kowalski

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Is Stanley Kowalski a Tragic Villain. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Is Stanley Kowalski a Tragic Villain

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