Representation of Women in a Streecar Named Desire

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In A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, women as a social group are represented through two main female characters: Blanche and Stella (Williams, Tennessee). The play is set in postwar America, during which women had restricted freedom and were given a largely domestic role in society (A&E Television Networks, LLC.) Many women, however, who had played a more active role in society during the war found it difficult to adjust back to their lives after the war ended . Williams uses Blanche and Stella to convey society’s ideas about the role of women at the time, focusing on women’s domestic role, their passivity and what was presumed as ‘femininity’. Stella exemplifies the perceived domestic role of women during that period, staying at home while Stanley goes to work. She does not have a profession and it is implied that Stanley handles the financial matters of the house from where she states that he “likes to pay bills himself” (Williams 161). When Stanley hears from Stella that Blanche lost Belle Reve, he is immediately suspicious and demands that Blanche show him the paperwork. He gives a speech about the “Napoleonic code”, under which what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband (Williams 133). Neither Blanche nor Stella knows about the code, which reinforces this stereotype. Although Blanche partially goes against this image by having a full education and even a job prior to coming to New Orleans, she is almost broke when she arrives which suggests that women cannot gain financial stability without men. Although perhaps intentional to some extent, Blanche also conforms to this general image of women by not showing any interest to the paperwork of the plantation, referring to them as a “bunch of old papers” and handing them to Stanley to keep in his “big, capable hands” (Williams 141). Stella follows the general stereotype of the period of women
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