Themes of Class Conflict in A Streetcar Named Desire

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1. Blanche

1.1. "Her appearance is incongruous to this setting."

1.1.1. She doesn't belong in New Orleans due to her elevated social class.

1.1.2. She thinks that she is better than everyone else, visible by the way she dresses. She is actually part of a dying aristocracy and cannot adapt to modern times.

1.2. "No." "Thanks."

1.2.1. Blanche shows that she feels socially superior to the Negro Woman

1.3. "You're simple... primitive."

1.3.1. Blanche belittles Stanley as he is less refined than her due to his social class

1.4. "Polacks."

1.4.1. Blanche sees herself as a true American and views Stanley as inferior as he was not brought up with American values like she was. She uses derogatory terms to describe people from other races as this has always been acceptable due to her social status

1.5. "My, but you have an impressive judicial air!"

1.5.1. Blanche belittles Stanley as she realises that he does not know what he is talking about as he is not educated enough.

1.6. "...exchanged the land for their epic fornications!"

1.6.1. Her ancestors squandered money and spend it on women By admitting this, Blanche is also admitting that her ancestors are no better than Stanley's.

1.7. "Please don't get up."

1.7.1. The men aren't going to get up. This is just what she is used to back at Belle Reve as a woman of high social status.

1.8. "...couldn't we get a colored girl to do it?"

1.8.1. This shows how Blanche has been brought up; living on a plantation in a heavily segregated America.

1.9. "Our attitudes and our backgrounds are incompatible. We have to be realistic about things."

1.9.1. Whether Blanche is putting an act on or not, she has been brought up with the notions that people from separate social classes should not be able to mix. This also highlights how disapproving she is of Stella and Stanley's relationship.

2. Stanley

2.1. "Catch!" "Meat!"

2.1.1. Stanley has a limited vocabulary due to his social class. This makes it easier for Blanche to ridicule Stanley as she is better educated than him

2.2. "Look at all these feathers and furs that she's come to preen herself in."

2.2.1. Stella has nothing left so she is just keeping hold of these clothes to keep up pretenses. Stanley was naive enough to believe that these were seriously expensive clothes as he's never seen clothes like these. Stella shows that she is of higher status than Stanley as she is able to see that the clothes are not of great value

2.3. "The Kowalskis and the DuBois have different notions."

2.3.1. Stanley knows that Stella and Blanche are higher in social class but believes that this does not make his life any less valid than that of an aristocrat

2.4. "You going to shack up here?"

2.4.1. Stanley's use of colloquial language highlights his lack of education and sophistication

2.5. "What do you two think you are? A pair of queens?"

2.5.1. Stanley is completely unhappy with the unfair way the class system is structured and he believes that he should not be treated as inferior due to his social class. Huey Long, who Stanley references, was a sexist politician. Stanley believes that he is superior to Stella and Blanche as he is a man.

3. Stella

3.1. "Hey there! Stella, baby!"

3.1.1. Stella still retains some of her social status and expects Stanley to speak to her like a lady

3.2. "A different species."

3.2.1. Stella describes Stanley in this way as she is trying to describe just how different he is in terms of social class.

3.3. "Her face is serene in the early morning sunlight." "The table is sloppy."

3.3.1. Although Stanley has just assaulted her, Stella continues to stay with him. She allows herself to be brought down to Stanley's social level due to the passion and desire they have for each other

3.4. "Your face and your fingers are disgustingly greasy. Go and wash up and then help me clear the table."

3.4.1. Stella speaks down to Stanley when she is angry and brings him back up when she forgives him. She is most likely speaking to him like this due to the fact that Blanche has been around for so long, reminding Stella that she is of a higher status than Stanley

3.5. "I pulled you down off those columns."

3.5.1. Stella chose life with Stanley over the aristocracy.

4. (The Collapse of) The Old South

4.1. "A great big place with white columns."

4.1.1. The columns represent wealth and aristocracy. Even Eunice is able to recognise this which shows just how much influence the DuBois had

4.2. "What are you doing in a place like this?"

4.2.1. Even though Blanche literally has nothing, she judges Stella's living conditions as, because she is a Southern Belle, she should not be living in conditions like this. Blanche would have never have dreamed of living in a place like New Orleans but it seems that Stella was much more happy in New Orleans than Blanche was in Belle Reve.

4.3. "a graveyard, to which now all but Stella and I have retreated."

4.3.1. The end of the DuBois bloodline but also the end of the aristocracy of the Old South

4.4. "That's a dial phone, honey."

4.4.1. Blanche does not recognise it as a dial phone as she cannot keep up with the times

4.5. Don't hang back with the brutes."

4.5.1. She believes that society is descending back into the Stone Age, but it is actually her that cannot adapt to the modern way of living.

4.6. "What I am is one hundred per cent American, born and raised in the greatest country on Earth and proud as hell of it, so don't ever call me a Polack."

4.6.1. The changing times mean that Stanley can finally stand up to the discrimination he faces from being Polish. This is also representative of the new generation fighting the dying aristocracy.

4.7. "He crosses to the dressing-table and seizes the paper lantern, tearing it off the light bulb."

4.7.1. This represents the destruction of Blanche, but also the destruction of the Old South. Stanley, a young son of immigrants has 'raped' the traditions and customs of the aristocracy, rendering it useless and outdated.

5. In Scene Two, Williams uses a split dialogue to introduce conflict between both Stella and Stanley, and then Blanche and Stanley. These conflicts highlight the juxtaposition between social classes.