Williams in his possessive interest in Stella

Williams presents a clash between two cultures via the characters, symbols, ideologies and stage directions within the play, A Street Car Named Desire. Primarily, the conflict of cultures is shown through characters of Blanche, Stella, Mitch, and Stanley who represent the aristocracy and working class of the industrializing American society. The most obvious clash of cultures is the diversity of the characters backgrounds. Immediately there is a contrast in the surnames of DuBois and Kowalski. The French name Dubois creates the assumption of aristocracy and class.  Moreover, the unique name of Blanche connotes fragility, white and fairness. In contrast, Kowalski is a very common Polish name indicating Stanley is of the working class. In addition to this point, Stanley translates to the old English word “stone.” Therefore the connotations of “stone” as cold and heartless reinforces not only Blanche’s but the audience’s opinion of Stanley as “primitive” with no class. It is highly suggested that Williams uses the significance of the character’s names to introduce the clash of cultures by the use of nationality association. To elaborate, the social values of each of the characters further represent a clash of cultures. For instance, Blanche having grown up into the wealthy, genteel society, values her appearance. At many points of the play, Williams uses the symbol of light to highlight Blanche’s obsession with her youth. “And turn that over-light off! Turn that off! I won’t be looked at in this merciless glare!” (Chapter 1) On the other hand, Stanley clearly values money and power above all. This is evident in his possessive interest in Stella and Blanche’s Belle Reve plantation as he claims due to the “Napoleonic code” everything his wife owns is his too. Thus, this shows that Stanley regards money as the key to happiness. Perhaps, Williams uses Blanche’s and Stanley’s contradicting values to imply that the rich although having vast amounts of money are more concerned with reputation and appearance whereas the poor value money before class. Similarly, Fitzgerald the author of the famous novel, the Great Gatsby also expressed the opinion that there is an undeniable and insurmountable clash of class and culture between new money and old money.From even the first scene of the play, there is an overwhelming sense of animosity. This is evident immediately during the first encounter of Blanche and Stanley where again there is a clear clash of culture and backgrounds; “I’m afraid I’ll strike you as being the unrefined type.” The apologetic start of the quote, “I’m afraid”, creates a tone of direct sarcasm. Additionally, “strike” connotes an aggressive and dominating nature. Perhaps Tennessee Williams uses this verb to foreshadow and give a slight indication of the nature of Stanley’s personality. Moreover, Stanley knows that Blanche values class and the finer things in life and therefore use the term “unrefined” and its negative connotation to appeal to her sensitivity. Some audience members suggest that Stanley feels threatened and struggles to cope with Stella and Blanche’s “upper-class” background. There is evidence to support this in the language and manner Blanche uses to flaunt her superiority over Stanley. At various points of the play, Blanche continuously refers to Stanley using the term “Polack” in an offensive manner. William’s uses the racial term “Polack” to reinforce the clash of cultures between the two main characters. A streetcar named desire is a play not only intended for entertainment but to present the clashes between cultures in American society which was becoming industrialized from the old “aristocratic” ways of the south. Interestingly, the play is set in the diverse, swinging French quarters of New Orleans, which presents an exuberant atmosphere. The main characters Stella and Stanley live in the low-income section of New Orleans which is portrayed with little racial segregation. In spite of this, the arrival of Blanche shows a clear divide between the attitudes of the south and the north. Blanche displays sharp and strict attitudes on class, gender, and race.