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A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

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How does the setting in A Streetcar Named Desire highlight differences between Blanche and Stanley?

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The setting of A Streetcar Named Desire is a small, poorly furnished apartment in a working-class neighborhood. Stella is expecting a baby, which will make the place seem even smaller. Then when Blanche moves in for a temporary but indefinite stay, the apartment seems actually cramped. Blanche has been living in the family estate, which was undoubtedly spacious and representative of the Old South. She is in no position to complain about the accommodations offered to her by her sister and brother-in-law, but part of the reason she disapproves of him is that he can't provide something better for two sisters who were used to a much different lifestyle, with servants and other amenities. Part of Stanley's dislike for Blanche is that he knows she looks down on him. He may feel a little guilty for being unable to offer his wife something better. He is under more pressure now that they are expecting a baby. Blanche, with her aristocratic values and manners, is just another liability and source of frustration. They cannot just ignore each other because the setting is so cramped. Blanche seems to take up a lot of room with her clothing and decorations, and she monopolizs the bathroom. Stanley seems to take up a lot of room too, because he is so big and because he insists on entertaining his proletariat buddies there. The setting, besides reflecting poverty, makes it seem that Blanche and Stanley are always bumping into each other and getting into each other's way. Hostility is inevitable.

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