Is Being Physical Necessary?

         In Tennessee Williams' 1947 book A Streetcar Named Desire, the characters are extremely physical with one another. The most physical of all characters in the movie, directed by Elia Kazan in 1951, is Stanley Kowalski. This character is played by Marlon Brando. Stanley's character is brutal, rough, aggressive, and has very bad habits.

         The relationship Stanley has with his wife, Stella (Kim Hunter) is claimed to be one of unconditional love. However, Stanley is very physically aggressive toward Stella, and I do not think it is necessary to be as physically rough as he is, especially when one loves someone unconditionally. Stanley treats Stella horribly throughout the play and film. He pushes her around and yells at her constantly. This behavior gets even worse upon the arrival of Stella's sister, Blanche (Vivien Leigh). He rarely listens to anything she has to say; and, if he does, he will just tell her to shut up and do something for him. Stanley only acts kindly to Stella when he wants something sexual from her. Stanley is extremely attached to Stella. I think he is because he has an extreme amount of insecurities. These insecurities are also why he is so physically aggressive.

         Stanley's character also rapes Stella's sister, Blanche, near the end of the play. This is the most physically abusive thing his character does throughout the entire play. Stanley does not want to let anyone destroy his marriage. When he finds out that Blanche is talking bad about him to Stella, he tries his best to overpower Blanche so that he can keep Stella. He does not show any sympathy toward Blanche's past and is constantly trying to find out the truth about it.

         Stanley's insecurities also lead him to always want control. We the audience see proof of this when he begins to rummage through Blanche's rich clothes, when he throws the radio when Blanche is enjoying the music, and when he throws the dinnerware from the table against the wall to show he is in "control." He is straightforward and honest; but ultimately those are not good traits for him to bestow upon his victims, mostly female. He tolerates nothing that does not please him. He is the man of the house and wants to be treated that way; especially by the women. Stanley's view of women is that they are lower than men are. Stanley is crude and vulgar and never a gentleman.

Rhiannon Mitchell

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