Freud and Tennessee

In class on Tuesday, I wanted to mention that Streetcar could be read through the lens of a Freudian analysis, especially when the discussion reached the point of labelling Blanche as being conflicted between culture and society. We talked about this a bit in the Williams and Capote Seminar last spring, but in rereading it, the Freudian analysis kept beating me over the head with its obviousness and I was wondering if anyone else picked up on it.

Like Jake mentioned the culture clash in Streetcar, the Freudian analysis of id, ego, and superego is another clash that could very well invoke a discussion on the types of culture because what is a culture without one extreme counterbalanced by another (politics, in a sense)?

Blanche would be the superego because she’s always covered, lives somewhat fantastical, and is always a performance; this is exactly culture. On the other hand, Stanley is the id–uncovered (look at the cover and the movie), focused on immediate gratification, childish, and somewhat passionately hypnotic; nature. Stella, meanwhile, is so bland and caught between them that she is the ego. She is the consciousness that is always trying to negotiate the id and the superego (extremes, if you will). She will go with the lesser of two evils, even if it means being “condemned” to Stanley’s temper and violence.

2 Responses to “Freud and Tennessee”

  1. Meg Baker says:

    Meganne, your reading of the text is one I hadn’t even thought of, but now I definitely can see it. I realize now that I touched on this somewhat in my paper, only without using Freudian terms. However, I would argue that Stella is not bland because she is the Ego, but rather the more interesting because she is the Ego. The Ego must struggle between the Superego and the Id, and make decisions based on that. In this case, Stella choses to live moreso as the Id would want her to (the more basic, sexual, and instinctive). This is actually the more dangerous choice, though it saves her from Stanley’s wrath, she endangers others (Blanche, her newborn child, etc).

    • meganne says:

      I was actually thinking about my post throughout the day and after reading your comment, I realized that I didn’t mean Stella being bland as uninteresting–I meant “bland” as somewhat normal when compared to the extremes of Stanley and Blanche. I couldn’t quite think of an appropriate adjective and bland was floating around so I picked that one.