Essay on How does Williams present conflict in A Streetcar Named Desire?

Submitted By anaradmor
Words: 1550
Pages: 7

Choose one scene from the play that demonstrates conflict. Write a detailed analysis of how Williams portrays this theme.

Williams explores the theme of conflict between Blanche and Stanley, Blanche and Stella and Blanche and herself throughout the play but in my opinion, the scene that highlights the intensity of this conflict is scene ten in which Stanley rapes Blanche. This scene is the climax of the build up of tension between the characters throughout the play. It is in this scene that the deterioration of Blanche’s mental health is recognised.

The scene begins with Blanche sitting before the mirror on the dressing table talking to herself as if to “a group of spectral admirers”. The stage directions informs us that Blanche has already been drinking which further shows the recurring idea throughout the play that Blanche wishes to escape reality through drinking excessively. Williams also describes the mood as being “a mood of hysterical exhilaration”. Her drinking tells us that her encounter with Mitch in the previous scene has impacted her negatively as he rejected her, something that she is not used to, especially as she had high hopes of marrying him. Blanche speaks to the mirror is a way that imitates that of a teenage girl, reckless and carefree. She speaks of taking a “moonlight swim at the old rock-quarry” which is rash and dangerous however mimics the things that she might have done as a teenager. This emphasises an inner conflict in which Blanche is unable to move on from the past and accept that she is older now. Williams highlights Blanche’s drunken state by using the adverb “tremblingly” in the stage directions which also allows the reader to comprehend Blanche’s vulnerability at this time.

Stanley enters the scene “slamming the door” showing his aggressive nature. He too, has had a few drinks on the way back from the hospital where Stella is giving birth to his child.
He gives a “low whistle” as he looks at Blanche who is dressed in a “white satin evening gown”. When he asks Blanche why she is dressed so formally, she tells him that she had received a telegram from an “old admirer” named Shep Huntleigh who was mentioned earlier on in the play as having been Blanche’s boyfriend in college. Blanche receiving a telegram from her old admirer draws suspicions as to whether she is lying because her relationship with Shep ended decades ago so it is unlikely that he would contact her out of the blue. This once again emphasises Blanche’s inability to let go of her past and thus suggesting an inner conflict. This may also be her way of showing Stanley that she has a plan and a life ahead of her after the truth of her promiscuous past was revealed.
Stanley’s language towards Blanche show the conflict between them. Stanley uses non-standard English such as “I thought it was Tiffany diamonds.” His incorrect grammer shows his refusal to adapt his language around Blanche to match her formal speech suggesting that he is hostile to those of a higher social class.

David Kinder wrote an article named “No Accommodation” where he addresses the difference between Blanche and Stanley’s speech. He explains how they each came from “very different educational backgrounds” which helped form the way in which they talk in the present. He says that the “linguistic contrast” between the two protagonists strongly symbolises the “dramatic conflict between them”. Blanche has a way of using more elaborate language when speaking widening the linguistic gap between herself and Stanley. She uses words such as “fornications” for sex and “improvident” for careless emphasising her social class. This is a contrast to Stanley’s language which is blunt and steers towards slang such as calling a girl he went out with a “doll” which also indicates his sexual objectification of women. Kinder argues that Stanley would rather use a catch-all term than show a “more expanded vocabulary” because these terms are “part of Stanley’s dialect” and are used