The author of the play “A Streetcar Named Desire”, Tennessee Williams, lived in a time when men were portrayed as leaders of the household and wealth was the sum total of a man’s personal value. The way that Williams chooses to portray his characters illustrates that he intended to portray them as outsiders.
Stanley Kowalski, for example, is a simple man, who treats his wife Stella disrespectfully simply because she is a woman and therefore an outsider to the dominant gender. Her duties as a wife are to obey his commands and tolerate his behavior. During this period it was considered common for a man to be violent with his wife as he saw necessary in order for her to learn from her mistakes, particularly within the lower classes where violence seemed to be more prevalent. “Girls absorb the message that you just grin and bear it when you’re hit, while boys absorb the message that hitting by men may be appropriate to show love and power in relationships” (“Physical and Emotional Abuse”, 2008). After one of these ‘corrective’ attacks which causes Stella to temporarily leave her husband, Stella states to her sister, “He was a good lamb when I came back and he’s really very, very ashamed of himself” (Williams, 2309). Stella immediately goes back to her husband even after being brutally beaten just because she feels she has to for her own support and in fulfillment of her marriage vows. The reader understands that today this kind of behavior is against the law and is not tolerated at all, and a woman does not need to be married in order to be happy, whereas at that time women were in need of a man for social acceptance.
The dangers of outsider status is revealed in the desperate way in which women are portrayed as depending on a man for support. Stella states, “Stanley doesn’t give me a regular allowance, he likes to pay bills himself, but - this morning he gave me ten dollars to smooth things over” (Williams, 2311). She needs