A Lion Protecting His Domain

         When someone steps into the domain of a male lion, his first reaction is defense of his family. He seeks to destroy the intruder and protect not only his territory but his pride as well. I see Stanley (Marlon Brando) as a male lion in the 1951 Elia Kazan film A Streetcar Named Desire, based on the 1947 play by Tennessee Williams.

         The instant Blanche (Vivien Leigh), his wife's sister, steps into his home, and into his territory, he pounces all over her. Stanley is immediately suspicious of her intentions and moves swiftly to investigate. He fears that Blanche will convince his submissive wife Stella (Kim Hunter) that she should no longer be with Stanley. What man, under those circumstances, would not try to fight to keep his wife? Although his tactics, words and actions are conniving and ruthless, he is simply a man protecting what he believes to be his. It is obvious that he is in complete control of Stella through her sexual needs. The scene that is the genuine proof that Stanley is and will remain to be "king of the household" occurs towards the end of the play. When Stanley, Blanche and Stella sit down to dinner to celebrate Blanche's birthday, Stella calls Stanley a variety of names including a slob and a pig. Brando's portrayal of the furious Stanley is flawless. His forcefulness as he throws the dishes across the room shows that he is not going to take being treated as less than the king. As the king, he is to be treated with respect.

         His desire to be in absolute control comes to a climax with the rape of Blanche. In the end, he regains his territory and the enemy, Blanche, is forced out. His wife and newborn are secured within his domain. Although Stella runs away initially, it is almost guaranteed that she will return. Stanley is ruthless and will fight at any cost, just as a lion, protecting his pride would be.

Michelle Farney

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