Reviewing a recent production of the play, a critic has commented that Stanley is 'a threatening presence whose monstrousness is only fully revealed at the end.' Discuss

Essay by vegas_sexbombHigh School, 12th gradeA-, January 2005

download word file, 5 pages 3.0

Downloaded 17 times

It cannot be denied that much of Stanley's behaviour throughout the play, in particular his rape of Blanche, is 'monstrous'. However, the potential behind his 'threatening presence' is cunningly revealed by Williams long before the dramatic ending through Stanley's stage directions, language and behaviour. One critic, peter Fleming, referred to Stanley as 'a character almost as over-simplified and two-dimensional as those daemonic supermen whose exploits in strip cartoons make such an appeal to the imagination of the American male.' Clearly, Stanley's brutal masculinity can be viewed as an illusion, a realist image to which he aspires, and, in doing so, becomes an egocentric persona who provokes audience concern form his entry in Scene One. As a result, Williams unmasks Stanley's 'monstrousness' gradually throughout the play so that the end, although shocking, cannot be described as unexpected.

Williams reveals Stanley's character to the audience in a number of different ways.

The initial stage directions in Scene One introduce an animalistic man who thrives on his own sexuality and the power of male brute force: 'Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes . . . the centre of his life has been his pleasures with women.' Descriptions of all Stanley's movements from this scene onwards enhance his atavism, 'seizes the atomizer . . . rips off the ribbon . . . lurches up . . . with heaven-splitting violence.' This gives the impression that Stanley physically can control the people in his life, and if failing by other means he will not hesitate to use this power.

Another device used by Williams to emphasise the importance of physicality to Stanley's character through is symbolism. He is described as 'the gaudy seed bearer', and is regularly associated with visual...