Notes on A Streetcar Named Desire Themes

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A Streetcar Named Desire Topic Tracking: Violence

Scene 1

Violence 1: The play introduces Stanley and Stella with physicality. He throws a package of meat at her to cook. Instead of handing it to her gently, he throws it at her. This slightly violent exchange is the first vague image of their type of communication.

Violence 2: Blanche tells Stella how hard she worked for Belle Reve before she lost it. She uses violent terms such as "bled," "fought," and "died" as she taunts Stella for not being there. Although not physically violent, this conversation is verbally violent.

Scenes 2 and 3

Violence 3: During the poker game, Stanley slaps Stella on her thigh. He does this not to hurt her, but to convey some sort of affection. Stella does not like it. Again, their communication is physical and somewhat violent through throwing and slapping.

Violence 4: Stanley throws the radio through the window in a violent rage. Stella is angry, they fight, and he hits her. This time, their physical communication is purely violent. He does not beat her much; he hit her once. She leaves the house showing him that she will not tolerate such brutality.

Scenes 4 and 5

Violence 5: Stella tells Blanche about her wedding night with Stanley. He took the heel of her shoe and broke every light in the house in a passionate, violent rage. Stanley's violent side excites Stella and sometimes brings them closer, other times pushes them apart.

Violence 6: Steve and Eunice fight in the upstairs flat and someone is hit. At first we cannot see who the victim is. Their side-plot of perpetual fights and violent arguments parallels Stanley and Stella's world of repeated arguments and occasional violence in the downstairs flat.

Scene 6

Violence 7: Blanche tells Mitch about her husband's violent suicide. He put a gun in his mouth and shot himself. It was a clean death albeit self-inflicted, but still one of violence.

Scenes 7 and 8

Violence 8: At Blanche's birthday dinner, Stanley becomes angry and clears his table by smashing his plate and glass. He yells at the women saying that he is the King and that he will clean the table by smashing everything.

Scenes 9 and 10

Violence 9: In their final stand-off, Blanche grabs a glass bottle, breaks it, and shoves the jagged edge in Stanley's face in order to hurt him. He taunts her. They fight and he picks her up and carries her into the bedroom. She is on the same violent level as he has been for most of the play.

Scene 11

Violence 10: Blanche physically fights to pull away from the Doctor and Nurse who try to take her away. She struggles on the ground and they pin her down. She ultimately gives in as they show her kindness. She realizes she cannot fight with violence.

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