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Keywords

homosexuality, A Streetcar Named Desire, homosocial

Disciplines

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Literature in English, North America

Abstract

Themes related to homosexuality and the homosexual experience are interwoven in many layers throughout Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. This research paper analyzes contemporary commentary on homosexuality from the 1940s and ‘50s, Blanche’s experiences with light and perception, and moments of homosociality between the male poker players, to interpret how the homosexual experience is represented and exposed on stage through the two main characters in the play, Blanche and Stanley. Williams uses a heteronormative context to portray the homosexual experience, thus mirroring the way gay men had to navigate life in the closet while presenting to the public a façade that mimicked that of the hetero-norm. Ultimately, Williams uses illusions to make a comment on the greater society’s attitudes towards homosexuals. Homosexuals were forced to present themselves in illusory manners to be accepted within society; they had to navigate the world inside and outside “the closet”. Thus, Williams uses this theme of illusion and perception in various instances in the play to showcase this type of mentality. Also explored is the concept of the homosexual v. homosocial. The Poker Night scene exemplifies the concept of the homosocial and serves as another avenue through which the homosexual experience is evoked. We see, through Blanche and Stanley, the way homosexual themes were incorporated from small lighting details to a larger scope present within male relationships in the play. Undoubtedly, there is so much more to do with homosexuality in Streetcar than readers may originally realize, and this paper only dips our toes into a newer lens through which Streetcar can be viewed and analyzed.

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