Tennessee Williams portrays Blanche and Stanley primarily in contrasting terms, although they share some commonalities, especially their desire to control Stella.
Blanche is not just female but very feminine, generally passive, from a rural area, and raised in an upper-class environment. Although only a few years older than Stanley and Stella, she seems almost maternal. Blanche is an idealistic romantic, apparently entrenched in antiquated Southern traditions. She represents the past, or at least an idyllic vision of the past, that includes many social graces. Her former way of life is largely irrelevant in the modern, post-War world.
Stanley, who is part of city life, is presented as the quintessence of machismo. He is aggressively masculine both in his interactions with other men and his treatment of women, including violence toward his wife and ultimately the rape of his sister-in-law. Although Stanley is an adult, his behavior is childishly impulsive. He is more realistic than Blanche (although perhaps not as much as he thinks) because he still looks for an easy out, but he holds down a working-class job. Stanley, for better or worse, represents the future of America; crude and unpolished, he is a diamond-in-the rough with the determination to reinvigorate the country.