The Clashes and Conflicts in A Streetcar Named Desire

Conflicts are mainly the themes of A Streetcar Named Desire. We can also find out that these conflicts are particularly illustrated in two protagonists, which are Stanley and Blanche. Tennessee Williams builds up the conflicts regarding their characteristics, genders, and even classes that are worthy of being explored and discussed.

First of all, there are a number of major differences between Blanche and Stanley in their personalities that generate a large number of conflicts. When the two first emerge on stage, for instance, the excellent variations have been shown.

The play stands for pragmatism and realism for Stanley's husband, who always favors Stella with his primitiveness and beast-liking masculinity, even Blanche's sister cannot resist to it at times. On the other hand, Blanche, who has just been forced to sell her family belongings, the precious plantation, is certainly less realistic than him and even lives in her dreamlike, unreal imaginations which later cause her to sink low. The appearance of Blanche also disturbs the pace of family lives of Stanley.

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He was the leader in his own home, the top one. But now Blanche is the center of Stella's attention, and Stanley is crazily envious of her for grabbing away this care. For the brutish, rude Stanley, Blanche is too sophisticated.

As for the conflict of genders, in the play, the author has given a clear boundary between the male and female. The female world is dominated by patience, legitimate desires , and loyal marriages, while impatience, aggression and violent sexual desires define the masculine world.

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In putting Blanche in immediate confrontation with Stanley, the stronghold of human maleness, whose folly and emotional promiscuity are transgressing the traditional feminine realm, Williams not only mentions the innate animosity between the uninhibited woman and patriarchy, but he also shouts a victory. In his raping of Blanche, Stanley immediately ends their unstable connection and punishes Blanche for breaking the traditional sex positions.

His physical manliness and strength are transmitted by the raw meat he carelessly heaves at Stella; his abusive character is displayed immediately by using images of blood that involves the red-stained package. This instantly brings Stanley into contact with brutality and shows how violent and cruel he is at play. Although his gender empowers Stanley, when approached by Blanche, who is a higher class than him, Stanley feels threatened. Stanley is uncertain of managing her because of Blanche's social status. The fight for power between the two is becoming increasingly evident as the play proceeds. In the beginning, Blanche seems to have victory. Stanley has been stopped from the argument by physical evidence of the tragedies in her past. In scene two, when Stanley and Blanche are fighting over the asset of the Dubois family, Blanche shouts, “Here all of them are, all papers! I hereby endow you with them” (Williams 44)! It threatens his pride because he doesn't have authority and he is inspired to deny Blanche. During the poker evening in scene three, the separation between males and females is obviously described. Mitch sadly but firmly says, “Poker should not be played in a house with women” (Williams 65). This represents social norms and the prevailing conviction that men's work should separate females. Stella and Blanche are excluded and their early return leads to chaos in the houses. Apart from segregation, dominance is again seen when Stanley cannot avoid Mitch from abandoning the match. His brutal outbreaks are desperate attempts to rule. Again in scene three, the author describes that “Stanley gives a loud whack of his hand on her thigh” (Williams 50). It is obvious that his threatening words are insufficient, and he begins to use violence to control Blanche. Although Stanley's strength primarily reduces Blanche to the lowest, Stella is also powerless by his brutal and aggressive behavior. In the poker night, a moment of male bonding, she is abused.

Last but not least, the class conflict is depicted throughout the play with personalities, signs, thoughts, and language in different forms. The nobility and middle class are used to portray characters like Blanche, Stella, Mitch, and Stanley. The Dubois Clan reflects the southern estate managers’ genteel culture which was governing the nineteenth century. The Polish immigrant's child Stanley Kowalski, who comes from the new southerners, operates at an industrialized southern plant, which has led to the disintegration of the agricultural society that brought up Blanche and Stella. Belle Reve and Stanley's “Napoleonic code” (Williams 32) are particularly evident in the conflict.

Blanche informed Kowalski's that Belle Reve had been missing, but without any evidence, so he interrogated, “Well what in hell was it then, give away? To charity” (Williams 32)? Stella does not really care whether Blanche does have such significant documents about Belle Reve or not, but Stanley does. Stanley, who is from a comparatively bad backdrop as opposed to the Belle Reve plantations in Stella and Blanches, would now value a portion of their property and talk about the Napoleonic code, meaning that all his wife's properties are also his own. After scanning through Blanche's stuff, Stanley's subtlety addresses to her, “It looks like you raided some stylish shops in Paris” (Williams 37). Unlike Stanley, who has a limited variety of language skills, Blanche is advanced. The language of Blanche leaves it clear to the public that she is well-educated. On the other hand, while Stanley pretends he's an intellectual when he talks of Napoleonic codes, for example, the audiences assume his vocabulary and vulgar expressions are not educated enough.

In scene ten, this conflict climaxes. Stanley starts with an unenthusiastic commentary like “Swine huh” (Williams 156)? to the discourse of Blanche in which she seeks her own redemption. Then Stanley is ravishing Blanche. Stanley's initial sentence before he picks up Blanche indicates that Stanley believed that he was going over her, he says, “We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning” (Williams 162)! The incident at the end of the show depicts the disappearance of the Old South aristocratic, crushed by the working class. Since Belle Reve's loss, Blanche has had problems finding her own way of supporting herself; she is insane and disappears from reality. At last, in A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche attempts to get rid of the past, crimes, errors, dreams,and reputations in different respects. We can suppose that her trip will begin all over again. She returns to the Elysian Fields, which is where the soul of people can get enough rest before returning to our world (SparkNotes Editors).

As we figure out the background of Stella, Stanley, and Blanche, we can surely say that they are really different individuals. Thus, if they were asked to stay in one place, there would definitely be quarrels and clashes, especially Stanley and Blanche, the two extremes. Tennessee Williams uses a lot of symbols and conversations between the two to illustrate the existing conflicts. From the aspect of personalities, sexes, and social classes, we can actually discover and find out the message that the author tries to convey to us, which is also something that we can learn from the play.

Works Cited

  1. Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire: [a Play.]. New York]: New American Library, 1947.
  2. The Conflict between Blanche & Stanley,
  3. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on A Streetcar Named Desire.” SparkNotes LLC. 2003. Web. 20 Jun. 2019.
Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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The Clashes and Conflicts in A Streetcar Named Desire. (2021, Feb 18). Retrieved from

The Clashes and Conflicts in A Streetcar Named Desire essay
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