During the time when A Streetcar Named Desire was written (unknown) and first performed (1947 in Boston then onto New York in the same year) there were several highly volatile changes occurring and many social views and institutions were being revolutionised. Firstly America were just coming out of times of immense economical and national hardship due to the ending of World War 2 and the depression. Evidently it was some of his experiences that could have influenced A Streetcar Named Desire’s themes, characters and purpose as a play.
His experiences during the depression working in a shoe factory enlightened Williams to the ‘peoples lives in the little white collar job class’. It is possible that during this period he met people who characters were based on or it could have provided the longing/ability to write of the lower class citizens in such a stark and intense way i. e. Stanley. Several themes in the play could have been considered controversial at the time and the purpose of Tennessee discussing such issues is unclear. One such theme was that of homosexuality.
During the period (1950 approx. ) homosexuality was somewhat frowned upon and resigned somewhat to the lower orders of society, but Williams himself being homosexual could have inspired him to enlighten America to such a concept. Although the references seem mild now at the time they were somewhat shocking and may be derived from Williams personal difficulties and stresses as a homosexual. This difficulty is not more starkly instigated than in the description of Blanches husband committing suicide due to her (and Americas? ) disgust and outrage.
This sub-plot may be considered a display and intentional insult to the perfect American dream of morals that presided in Blanche herself. Another major political change around that time was the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. In A Streetcar Named Desire it is difficult in pinpointing William’s view and the message (if there is one) on the racial groups. This is due to two-separate viewpoints. It could be argued that Williams means very little in regards to the racial groups of America through, firstly the minority of the role and the fact that the only black character is regarded as Negro Women.
Personally I feel this would not be the case due to Williams’s references, and seemingly political stance and message he sent out to America about homosexuality. Ignorance and hypocrisy to this degree would lead to an image of Tennessee promoting a tiered society. It is far more likely that he wished to enlighten America to the hugely diverse population that it holds. He does this through setting the play in a unique city regarded as a focal point for diversity. The diversity is evident through the large number of cultures and races e. g. African-Americans, Polish and their influence on many aspects of society e. . music namely jazz and blues.
He also emphasises this point directly with the inclusion of Stanley being of Polish decent and the character of the Negro woman. Once again it seems we see Tennessee’s personal stance through the confrontation between the racial mix (Stanley) and once again the American dream (Blanche). Like with the Plot there was a sub-plot, here there are underlying issues of the day Tennessee mentions and possibly opposes. Firstly we have the social standings of the individual sexes. Stanley being powerful and Stella somewhat submitting to this difference in status.
His views and depictions of the characters are highly idealistic (strong, masculine male (Stanley) compared to the weak and feeble female (Blanche)) in the representation of the male dominated society, which like racial issues, began to be challenged and overturned by the female. Another underlying issue that was starkly challenged was that of domestic abuse through the verbal abuse and threats Stella endured turning into sexual abuse Blanche endured which, due to the threats of Stanley (the dominant male) Blanches cries were unheard like many of the period.