Every Man for Himself

        In Tennessee Williams' 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire, filmed in 1951 by Elia Kazan, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) is Stella's (Kim Hunter)sexually-powerful, passionate, and often violent husband. A hard-working blue collar man, Stanley has no patience for Blanche (Vivien Leigh), Stella's (Kim Hunter) sister. He is a controlling and domineering man who demands obedience from his wife and feels that his authority is threatened by Blanche's arrival. Throughout the play and movie, he proves that he can be cold and calculating; and in the end, his goal is the demise of Blanche.

        Stanley is almost ape-like and primitive and represents a very crude type of man. He believes that chivalry is dead and often mentions that instead it was replaced by a rat race in which every man is for himself. However, even with his rough exterior, Stella cannot resist him; and Blanche finds herself somewhat drawn to him, perhaps because of her constant loneliness.

        As Blanche continues to stay overstay her welcome, at least in Stanley's opinion, the situation in the house grows more and more tense. Initially, Stanley distrusts Blanche because he feels she has cheated them. He eventually realizes the idea is ludicrous and finds Blanche to hardly be the con artist type. But the animosity between the two never stops. When Stanley overhears Blanche saying terrible things about him, he devotes himself fully to her destruction. Stanley's final assault against Blanche is an attack on an already beaten woman.

        The sad part is that the selfish Stanley has no qualms about driving his sister-in-law to madness, or raping her. No doubt he thinks that she had deserved it.

Jessica Wade

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