A Streetcar Named Desire: Characters- Stanley

Grace Fawcitt
Mind Map by Grace Fawcitt, updated more than 1 year ago
Grace Fawcitt
Created by Grace Fawcitt about 2 years ago


Edexcel A Level English Language and Literature: A Streetcar Named Desire- Characters. This mind map explores the character of Stanley Kowalski, including characteristics, key sections, contextual factors, and the link to colour.

Resource summary

A Streetcar Named Desire: Characters- Stanley
1 Colours
1.1 Stanley is typically associated with bright, garish clothing- this suggests both vitality and the overwhelming/dominating nature of men in the New America, especially when compared to Blanche's white clothing, which indicates vulnerability and innocence
2 Characteristics
2.1 Stanley is often presented animalistic- more like a caveman or ape than a sophisticated human. This is quite ironic given that he is supposed to represent New America- Williams is perhaps suggesting that the New America is evolutionarily flawed rather than improved. Blanche refers to him as an 'ape', and he typically is described within a predatory role- he is the alpha male who dominates and traps his prey.
2.2 Stanley is not an intellectual individual- his job requires minimal intelligence and lots of physical strength. He regularly demonstrates his power, although the ultimate example is of course his rape of Blanche and abuse of Stella. However, we can't claim Stanley is entirely stupid; he is manipulative and powerful, and knows just how to get to Blanche, as well as how to keep Stella
2.3 Stanley is renowned for his aggression and violence, and it is shown in more ways than just his abuse of Stella and rape of Blanche; Williams' verb choices for Stanley in the stage directions often connote an aggressive manner, suggesting his sharp and hostile nature
2.4 Stanley is also possessive, especially of Stella, but also of his house and friends; he needs to possess them in order to dominate them. Blanche attempts to steal Stella and Mitch away from him, as well as his liquor and living space, so the only way he sees fit to 'punish' her is to dominate her, and this is via raping her, the ultimate violation and domination.
3 Context
3.1 Williams may have based Stanley on his abusive and alcoholic father, who regularly belittled him by calling him 'Miss Nancy' as a result of his effeminate nature. Having said this, Williams also describes Stanley as, essentially, his 'type'- he is powerful and handsome, despite his cruel nature.
3.2 Stanley fought in the Second World War (1939-45) just 2 years prior to the play's setting. This may explain the soldier mentality he still appears to have- he needs to dominate others to feel like he is the 'winner', so to speak.
3.3 Stanley is supposed to represent the New America- the opposition to Blanche's Old South ideals. Williams seems to be using Stanley to critique the nature of New America; its way of destroying everything it comes into contact with, be it through violating Blanche, abusing Stella, or belittling Mitch
4 Key Sections
4.1 Scene 1
4.1.1 Stanley's entrance with Mitch
4.1.2 Stanley and Blanche meet
4.2 Scene 2
4.2.1 Stanley searches Blanche's trunk
4.2.2 Blanche flirts with Stanley
4.2.3 Stanley and Blanche discuss her letters/ papers
4.3 Scene 3
4.3.1 Playing poker
4.3.2 Throws radio and hits Stella
4.3.3 Reunites with Stella
4.4 Scene 4
4.4.1 Stanley overhears ape speech and enters
4.5 Scene 5
4.5.1 Blanche and Stanley talk star signs
4.5.2 Stanley questions Blanche on Shaw
4.6 Scene 7
4.6.1 Stanley reveals Blanche's past to Stella and discuss Mitch
4.7 Scene 8
4.7.1 Stanley 'clears up' Blanche's birthday meal after being angered
4.7.2 Stanley gives Blanche a bus ticket
4.8 Scene 10
4.8.1 Stanley reveals truth about Blanche
4.8.2 Stanley rapes Blanche
4.9 Scene 11
4.9.1 Stanley plays poker
4.9.2 Comforts Stella
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