With close analysis of scene 3 examine to what extent you agree. Throughout the entirety of Williams’ play it is painfully apparent that the Kowalski and Du Bois families are very different. The almost ‘opposing’ lifestyles of Stanley Kowalski and Blanche Du Bois are so incredibly dissimilar they are set to clash from scene one however it is arguably not until scene three that we see the true extent of their differences. It would also be unjust not to mention that the two, although opposing, can be very similar in the play, yet the rationale behind their similar actions can be seen as very different indeed.
Both Blanche and Stanley strive for control and need to be loved but their class divide and contrasting values can make this would be similarity seem poles apart. The most obvious way that Blanche and Stanley can been seen as different is in that way that they conduct themselves. Stanley is very brash and blunt refusing to change the way that he wants to act to suit a situation. Blanche on the other hand is far more ‘old fashioned’, she presents herself in a very respectful and ladylike way and therefore expects to be treated with courtesy.
These traits are first clearly revealed in scene three as Blanche, after first receiving welcomed flattery from Stella asking “How do I look? “, enters the room in which Staley is playing poker among friends. As a ‘Lady’ Blanche expects that the men will stand, however as to seem almost modest or overly flattered she asks them “please don’t get up”. To this Stanley replies, in an almost scornful manner, “no body’s going to get up so don’t be worried”.
From this point in the play it is clear that the two are as different as chalk and cheese, at least when it comes to character traits, culture and psyche. One way that some of their differences could be explained is that the two are coming from entirely different backgrounds. We are told from scene one that Blanche, and Stella, had been brought up in “Belle Reve” as daughters of, what were at one point, wealthy landowners of the ‘Old South’. Stanley is of Polish origin however a born American as he makes terrifyingly clear to Blanche after she has repeatedly called him a “Polak” throughout the play.
He insists “I am not a Polack. People from Poland are Poles, not Polacks. But what I am is a one hundred percent American, born and raised in the greatest country on earth and proud as hell of it, so don’t ever call me a Polack” Stanley makes clear to the audience that he represents the new, heterogeneous America to which Blanche doesn’t belong as a relic from the defunct social hierarchy that was the ‘Old South’. He sees himself as a “social leveller”, as he tells Stella in Scene Eight.
Arguably due to their upbringing, or one of a large number of other possible causes, it is now clear that the two are very culturally different, their traits are contrasting and their basic mentality is almost opposite. Due to the social climate even Blanche recognises that “he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume, but maybe he’s what we need to mix with our blood now that we’ve lost Belle Reve. ” However there are many other ways, of a far more complex and contextual nature that the two differ but are also similar.
Both conflicting characters, Blanche and Stanley seek control; not at first over each other but without doubt over those around them. In scene three we see Blanche belittling Stanley as an attempt to make herself seem more superior than Stanley to Stella. Consequently establishing a dominant position over the couple, in Stella’s eyes at least. When Stella proudly tells Blanche that “Stanley’s the only one of his crowd likely to go anywhere” Blanche tells her that she is “sorry, but [she hasn’t] noticed the stamp of Genius on Stanley forehead”
Stanley’s control over his company is rather more obvious, for example; rather than let people make up their own mind Stanley will go on to tell people what is going to happen. Stanley consistently makes comments throughout the play like “Nobody’s going to get up”, “Turn it off! ” and “this is my house and I’ll talk as much as I want to! ” Although the two both seek control, as explained, they go about it in very different ways. However, the reasons that they strive for this control could be considered similar in that it is a matter of class and upbringing.
The two were brought up in opposing class systems; Blanche brought up as ‘upper-class’ with a view of herself as one with elite social status, and Stanley as a proud ambitious member of the working class. In 1947 when ‘A Street Car Named Desire’ was first performed, the ‘Old South’ was undergoing reform. A new breed of post war, second generation, immigrant, American workers transformed the working class at the time into a highly industrious workforce; upon which the New South and ‘New America’ relied.
The wealthy landowners of the ‘Old South’ were becoming obsolete as Americas economy began to shift, relying more and more on new industry and therefore the working class. At such a volatile time the success of one of the classes would be the downfall of the other. Tennessee Williams, through the characters of Blanche and Stanley, is telling the story of this shift of power. The characters of the two classes each represent values that are antagonistic to each other’s chances of survival in modern America.
Therefore, Stanley and Blanche striving for control is symbolic of the class survival struggle at the time. Stella’s loyalty to Stanley also serves as a symbol of Stanley’s societal success. Blanche fails to convince Stella to leave Stanley as she believes Stella was born for better society and values, saying “You can’t have forgotten that much of our bringing up, Stella, that you just suppose that any part of a gentleman’s in his nature! Not one particle, no! Oh, if he was just – ordinary! Just plain – but good and whole-some, but no. There is something downright – bestial – about him. “