A Streetcar Named Desire

Themes and Colors
Sexual Desire Theme Icon
Fantasy and Delusion Theme Icon
Interior and Exterior Appearance Theme Icon
Masculinity and Physicality Theme Icon
Femininity and Dependence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in A Streetcar Named Desire, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Masculinity and Physicality Theme Icon

Masculinity, particularly in Stanley, is linked to the idea of a brute, aggressive, animal force as well as carnal lust. His brute strength is emphasized frequently throughout, and he asserts dominance aggressively through loud actions and violence. Even his clothing is forceful: he dresses in bright, lurid colors. Stanley’s masculinity is deeply connected to the “sub-human.” Williams describes him as a “richly feathered bird among hens” and a “gaudy seed-bearer.”

Much emphasis is placed on Stanley’s physical body: he is frequently seen stripping his shirt off; cross at Blanche for not letting him spend time in the bathroom (where the audience cannot see him, but can imagine his naked form). Stanley asserts his masculinity physically as well as psychologically. Physically, he bellows in a sort of animal mating call at Stella. He also forces himself upon Blanche. Psychologically, he investigates Blanche’s sordid past and brings it into the limelight, airing Blanche’s dirty laundry (both literally and metaphorically) to affirm his position as not only the alpha male but also the head of the household. Yet although Stanley is aggressively animal in his male nature, his masculinity also asserts itself in his response to the feminine. He has tender responses to Stella’s pregnancy; his tone shifts suddenly both when he breaks the news to Blanche and when Stella tells him that she is in labor. He also breaks down when Stella leaves him after he hits her.

Stanley is a prime specimen of manhood, but he is not a gentleman. Stanley represents the powerfully attractive but powerfully frightening threat of masculinity, whereas Mitch represents masculinity as a trait of comfort and refuge. If Stanley is the alpha male, Mitch is a beta male: still a masculine force, but not asserting the same kind of physical dominance over the space. But Mitch still finds his power through physical assertion. Mitch brags about his body to Blanche and insists on his precise measurements (six foot one, two hundred seven pounds). Even though Mitch isn’t as violently male as Stanley, he is just as imposing a physical specimen. Blanche sees Mitch as male enough to radiate a carnal attractiveness, but not physically or psychologically dangerous in the way that Stanley is.

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Masculinity and Physicality ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Masculinity and Physicality appears in each scene of A Streetcar Named Desire. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Masculinity and Physicality Quotes in A Streetcar Named Desire

Below you will find the important quotes in A Streetcar Named Desire related to the theme of Masculinity and Physicality.
Scene 1 Quotes

Sit there and stare at me, thinking I let the place go? I let the place go? Where were you! In bed with your–Polack!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stanley Kowalski, Stella Kowalski
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

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Since earliest manhood the center of [Stanley’s] life has been pleasure with women, the giving and taking of it, not with weak indulgence, dependently, but with the power and pride of a richly feathered male bird among hens.

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski
Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 2 Quotes

I never met a woman that didn’t know if she was good-looking or not without being told, and some of them give themselves credit for more than they’ve got.

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bathing
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

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Now let’s cut the re-bop!

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

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Oh, I guess he’s just not the type that goes for jasmine perfume, but maybe he’s what we need to mix with our blood now that we’ve lost Belle Reve.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stanley Kowalski
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Red-hot!

Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 3 Quotes

STELL-LAHHHHH!

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker), Stella Kowalski
Related Symbols: Alcohol and Drunkenness
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 4 Quotes

There are things that happen between a man and a woman in the dark–that sort of make everything else seem–unimportant.

Related Characters: Stella Kowalski (speaker), Stanley Kowalski
Related Symbols: Shadows
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

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What you are talking about is brutal desire–just–Desire!–the name of that rattle-trap street-car that bangs through the Quarter.

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stella Kowalski
Related Symbols: The Streetcar
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:

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Don’t–don’t hang back with the brutes!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker), Stanley Kowalski, Stella Kowalski
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 6 Quotes

Sometimes–there’s God–so quickly!

Related Characters: Blanche DuBois (speaker)
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 9 Quotes

I told you already I don’t want none of his liquor and I mean it. You ought to lay off his liquor. He says you’ve been lapping it up all summer like a wild-cat!

Related Characters: Harold Mitchell (Mitch) (speaker), Blanche DuBois, Stanley Kowalski
Related Symbols: Alcohol and Drunkenness
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 10 Quotes

Tiger–tiger! Drop the bottle-top! Drop it! We’ve had this date with each other from the beginning!

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker), Blanche DuBois
Related Symbols: Alcohol and Drunkenness
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

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Scene 11 Quotes

You left nothing here but spilt talcum and old empty perfume bottles–unless it’s the paper lantern you want to take with you. You want the lantern?

Related Characters: Stanley Kowalski (speaker), Blanche DuBois
Related Symbols: Paper Lantern and Paper Moon
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

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