A Play a Streetcar Named Desire By Tennessee Williams, And Modern Times
A Streetcar Named Desire is a play that has been written by Tennessee Williams in 1947. There are some things in the play that might be considered controversial in today’s time. This written task is going to examine how differently would it be written if it was written in the present day United States. If the play would have been written in modern day United States, the discrimination towards homosexuals and the acceptance of the domestic violence could not be as present because of the way the audience would react to it.
Fifty years ago, domestic violence was considered therapeutic. “Wife beating” was socially accepted and no one would suffer any consequences or get into trouble because of it. According to a study, the wives that were victims of domestic violence had a partner that was “aggressive, efficient, masculine, and sexually frigid”. As mentioned before, doctors believed that a man beating his wife under certain circumstances was actually a good thing. It was called, “violent, temporary therapy”. Wife beating is something that reoccurs multiple times during the play. The main one occurs in the third scene of the play. What leads up to it is Stanley’s irritation of losing the poker game and also his irritation of Blanche ignoring his order to turn the instrument off. Stanley cannot handle himself anymore and when Stella confronts all the men calling them “wild animals” he ends up not being able to control himself and beats Stella. “She backs out of sight. He advances and disappears. There is the sound of a blow. Stella cries out. Blanche screams and runs into the kitchen. The men rush forward and there is grappling and cursing. Something is overturned with a crash.” This shows the male dominance and the acceptance of domestic violence, Stella being neutral about it, as Stanley, “likes to pay bills himself”.
As time passed, and the knowledge that doctors had expanded, it was slowly understood that wife-beating was not even close to being some kind of therapy. In today’s world, although not all countries can relate, wife beating is illegal. How severely domestic violence is punished is going to vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and will depend on the severity of the beating, but it’s always a crime. No jurisdiction allows someone to physically abuse their spouse. Domestic violence is a serious crime and this would make the play a little controversial, as it bases Stanley’s character of being violent and aggressive.
As stated by Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist, “Homosexuality is assuredly no advantage, but it is nothing to be ashamed of, no vice, no degradation, it cannot be classified as an illness,” – Sigmund Freud. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-I, homosexuality could be described as a “sociopathic personality disturbance”. During the ’40s and ’50s this “disturbance” was thought of as hard to treat. A number of American psychiatrists believed a “cure” could be found through psychoanalytic treatment. During this time, people saw homosexuality as an mental illness. Sometimes homosexuals would be put into insane asylums. Conversion therapy was believed to fix this “illness”. This had harmful effects on the people who went through it. They would have to put up with a lot, like electroshock therapy. The readers of the play are introduced to the topic of homosexuals when Blanche introduces her love for Allan, stating that there was “something different” about him but decided to marry him anyway. The “something different” about her first love was that he turned out to be gay. She found that out by walking on him cheating on her with another man one night. This is what she stated about that day, “Then I found out. In the worst of all possible ways. By coming suddenly into a room that I thought was empty–which wasn’t empty, but had two people in it… the boy I had married and an older man who had been his friend for years….” The theme of discrimination towards homosexuals came up when Blanche told the man, “I saw! I know! You disgust me…” This occurred during a dance, where Blanche told the man that she found out about him being a homosexual and that he “disgusts” her. Later on, the man proceeded to leave the building and kill himself by a shot to the head. The disgust was shown by the way she described finding the truth out, stating that it was the “worst possible way,” showing the real “disgust” that people felt towards homosexuals during that time.
Over the years, the acceptance of the LGBT community has dramatically changed. In June 1969, just after the death of gay icon Judy Garland, a group of gay men and drag queens started standing up to the police who continually harassed them in the New York club, The Stonewall. This is seen as the turning point for gay rights. While they still have some work to do, the treatment and acceptance has improved. As everything improved and homosexuals can express themselves more than they used to before, the audience for the play would react negatively to the “disgust” that was mentioned in the play towards a homosexual man.
In the modern day, discrimination against homosexuals and domestic violence are not present at such high rates as they were fifty years ago. This would completely affect the play if it would be written in the modern day as then there would be no discrimination or domestic violence in the play, as it would create too much controversy and problems for the play. If the play would have been written in modern day United States, the discrimination towards homosexuals and the acceptance of the domestic violence could not be as present because of the way the audience would react to it.
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