A Streetcar Named Desire: Character Profile – Stanley



Opening Impressions

At the beginning of the play, we see the main male character Stanley Kowalski as a hero as he is very loyal to his friends and very passionately in love with his wife. However this love is quite different from what the audience expects. Instead of a normal typical way of loving, Stanley and Stella live a life filled with sexual intimacy. Like most men in the play, Stanley is a very primitive muscular person (as shown when he throws a pack of meat at Stella) with a huge sexual drive for women. He is also a very dominant figure amongst the group.


Quotations & Analysis:





Stanley [bellowing]: Hey, there! Stella, Baby!
Stanley: Catch!
Stella: What
Stanley: Meat!

The first impression of Stanley comes from these quotations. It clearly shows he is a very primitive almost cave-man like character who doesn’t treat women the way that a woman should be treated. Similarly he calls her “Baby” which also gives an image of unequal status as she is harmless and useless whilst he was described with his friends as hard working laborers in blue denim work clothes.



Stanley throws the screen door of the kitchen open and comes in. Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes. Since earliest manhood….. pleasure with women…. Power and pride…. Richly feathered bird… heartiness… rough humor… love of good drink and food and games… his car, his radio.. gaudy seed bearer..

These animalistic connotations are of relevance with the theme of men overpowering women. The men in this play, mostly represented by Stanley are primitive, meaning they are more animalistic than actual gentlemen. Like animals in the wild, there is often an alpha-male or the most dominant figure in the group, or the pack leader. In this case, Stanley is the pack leader.  Many words such as “animal joy” “since earliest manhood” “richly feathered bird” are evidence of Stanley being the most dominant figure as a richly feathered bird represents a peacock, and male peacocks are usually the biggest and brightest of the peacocks who show themselves off to the females. In relation to Stanley, he is the biggest and shows himself off by taking his shirt off in some of the scenes. Furthermore he is a worker in blue denim clothes which give a muscular, hard working image of a man. It’s interesting in the fact that peacocks have bright feathers to attract females relates to Stanley. Blanche does not like to be revealed in true light as it will show her age, but Stanley constantly slowly reveals this and the other truths she has tried to hide. Thus metaphorically, he is as bright as a peacock in that he is the light that will reveal the truth behind Blanche.



[He starts to remove his shirt]
Blanche: Please, please do.
Stanley: Be comfortable is my motto

Stanley is a flirtatious womanizer. Although he doesn’t know Blanche well at the beginning of the play, he already shows off his upper body by removing his shirt. Furthermore he gives evidence of flirtatious behavior to all women despite his passionately sexual relationship with his wife. Additionally, it could be suggested that Blanche can be seen here as taken aback or mesmerized by Stanley’s body after he takes off his clothes with the words “please, please do.” This is where the audience sees a first few signs of Blanche not being as innocent as expected.



Stanley: I got an acquaintance who deals in this sort of stuff…..
Stanley: I got an acquaintance who works in a jewelry store.

Williams also portrays Stanley as very childish. This is one example as he keeps repeating “I’ve got an acquaintance” to Stella about Blanche. He does this because he doesn’t want to hear what Stella is telling him and always tries to show that It isn’t true. He doesn’t understand the superiority of Blanche and Stella’s past of superiority in the autocratic society.



Stanley: There is such thing in this state of Louisiana as the Napoleonic code…

Stanley fears of Blanche’s use of deception and persuasion skills to lure her sister into her world. Stanley tries to protect his wife by stating that a Napoleonic Code applies to him meaning whatever Stella owns, he owns. This is clearly a way of protecting his wife as Blanche sold her property in the past and tries to persuade her sister to get away from this society. By stating that men own everything, it relates to the theme of men overpowering women and the theme of unequal rights for women as it was at that time of the play.



Sit down!

Williams develops Stanley as the most dominant figure in the play. To the audience, he orders people around and does not care about anybody else but himself. This fact is also supported by the fact that his appearance represents his personality. He is very primitive and muscular, but he also has a very strong sexual drive for his wife.



Stanley: You’re goddamn right I told him! I’d have that on my conscience the rest of my life if I knew all that stuff and let my best friend get caught!

Stanley is a very difficult character to everybody, even with his wife and friends. The quotation shows that Stanley told Mitch about Blanche’s past in order to stop him from marrying her. One interpretation suggests that here he is trying to protect Mitch from Blanche’s deception about her past and so he tells him about her to stop them from marrying, thus it makes him seem more caring towards his friends and a hero. However, a contradicting interpretation suggests that Stanley doesn’t care about Mitch and his feelings but focuses only on one aim: to get rid of Blanche. So he told her in order for Mitch to think twice about marrying her and destroying their relationship which makes Blanche’s life even worse as she will lose the only person in the story she has a common life with.



Stanley: I’ve been on you from the start!

Although Stanley is quite childish, spoilt and an uneducated worker in society, he is still however quite cunning and street-smart. He hates Blanche and when he buys Blanche a ticket out of his world, he expects her to go feeling destroyed. So when Blanche tells Stanley of meeting a millionaire he makes sure to discredit this lie and remove even the pretence of dignity that it would have given Blanche. We see again that he isn’t fooled easily by her words. We know that Blanche is very deceiving as she does not show her true side or her true appearance as she constantly avoids the light. However, unlike the other men, Stanley isn’t fooled. The quotation further emphasizes the fact that Stanley resembles a predator.



Stanley: [voluptuously, soothingly]: Now, honey. Now, love..

Stanley doesn’t care anymore about what happens to Blanche as she leaves. He has won the war with Blanche and now can turn back to Stella and his baby. The use of the words “Now, honey. Now, love” suggests that he is back in control and so there will be peace and they are now bonded together like before Blanche invaded their home. Their bond has tightened by the fact that Stella has had her baby and it is the mixed blood of both the world of Stella and the world of Stanley. Furthermore, he doesn’t care about anybody’s need except his own as he reaches inside her blouse even though she mourns the fact that her sister is leaving.


Role in the Play:

Stanley can be seen both as hero and villain. Stanley represents the lively, vibrant, industrial lifestyle that will take American forward into economic boom, but at the same time could also be viewed as the villain as he rapes Blanche and destroys her dreams as well as her life. Stanley is the main male character in the story thus giving the story the balance of male and female but also he represents all men who live in the society at that time – looking for women, hulky, hard laborers, dominant and overpowering.



Key Moments:

Page 215

Stanley: Oh! So you want some rough-house! Tiger- tiger! We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning


This is when Stanley finally rapes Blanche before she leaves. This is a key moment because the quote “we’ve had this date from the beginning” suggests that the rape was inevitably going to happen, and that Blanche’s fate has been sealed because of Stanley’s hatred of her and the two opposing worlds that they come from. This physical destruction of Blanche completes the verbal destruction began earlier by revealing the truth to both her and Mitch about the illusory nature of Blanche’s character and dreams. The rape represents the sudden end of these dreams and it clearly rips her world apart and drives her insane. This relates to some of the main themes of the play such as dreams vs. reality, and men overpowering women but most importantly the theme of passion being destructive as the rape rips her dream world apart.