Clash of the Two Worlds

As we discussed in class there seems to be a tension between two worlds, or cultures, embedded in A Streetcar Named Desire.  The first being New Orleans, representing a paradigm shift of southern culture embracing sexuality, violence and art.  While on the other hand the old south is represented by Blanche’s repressed attitude of sexuality and non acceptance of violence.  Tennessee Williams’ depiction of these culture clashes leaves the reader with an evident question of morality: whether we should embrace new culture, or old culture.  Throughout the story we see the oppressive nature Blanche’s actions have on herself and the people around her. Leaving, in my perspective, a non sympathetic feeling towards her and the culture she represents.  On the other hand we have Stella and Stanley who I personally related to a lot easier and felt sympathetic for.  The problem is, that impression changes when the story twists in the end when Stanley rapes Blanche.
What I think Williams wants readers to question is which one of these two cultures is better, or are we all destined the same sad fate.  I personally felt sentimental for neither side because Blanche is ridiculous, but i cannot accept Stanley’s actions and Stella reminds me of the ending of Jayne Eyre where Jane chooses to accept such a dismal fate with her conniving lover Mr. Rochester, which disallows me to connect to Stella either.  I am left unconnected to the characters in this play and i keep asking myself the same question: Is new culture just raping old culture?

2 Responses to “Clash of the Two Worlds”

  1. Stephen says:

    I totally agree: Blanche sucks. From the beginning, you just can’t like her. She’s too over the top. With the rape, it didn’t really strike me as a tragic event because, well, she had it coming. What I mean by that is she seemingly wanted Stanley sexually. Because there’s not much description of the scene, you may even argue that she willingly gave in. I mean, look at Stanley and Stella’s relationship: a big fight where violence occurs and then hot, sexy, make-up sex follows right after. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Blanche willingly gave in. Either way, it does seem like a clash of cultures is evident, however I don’t think Williams claims one is better than the other. They’re both messed up in their own special ways.

  2. jakeg says:

    Ya Blanche does suck. But that is only my perspective, where as a radical feminist might view Blanche as a completely victimized character and Stanley as the phallic symbol of Williams just doing his bidding in his writing. If the two characters are representations of culture I definitely view them both as messed up. If that is the case, maybe Williams is actually critiquing the new culture as much as the old one. Is it a digression? Or just a repetition with a new face? To much to think about. More minds are necessary.