Female Characters in Williams’ works

Female Characters in Williams’ works

Williams being a real master of images. He is especially famous for his bright and unusal female characters. He depicts women from different perspectives revealing every hidden aspect of their personalities. Despite the fact that all three female characters are absolutely different from the first sight: these women have different surrounding, they deal with different problems and think in absolutely different ways, however, they all have tragic destinies. They do not see sense of their life, they are plunged into problems and see no way out. Blanche DuBois being a pure kind girl at the beginning of the play becomes a disappointed depredated person. She has lost not only her house and her relatives she has lost belief in herself and hope in her heart. She is weaker than circumstances and she is not able to resist them. The Princess is also loses any hope for future. Chance ruins her life as he infects her with a venereal disease. He destroys her life not being aware of this fact. Hannah Jelkes, being an old spinster and traveling with her old grandfather, get lost and does not know how to live further after her grandfather’s death.
Another main theme that makes all the three female characters so similar is their attitudes with the opposite gender – the world of men. In Williams’ works these are men who oppress women and ruin their lives.
All three novels describe the complexities of gender relations, which existed in the middle of the 20th century in America. Society described by Tennessee Williams is men-oriented. Women play there a subservient role. They are led by men. Stanly Kowalsky, one of the main characters of the play believes in patriarchal order in his household. He chooses dominant and imposing manner of behavior in order to prove his masculinity to his wife and other members of the family. Stella, his wife is mild and obedient woman, who doesn’t even think of arguing with her husband. Even her older sister Blanche, who seems to have strong personality and set up goals in life can not resist the power of Stanley. Blanche and Stanley are attracted and withstand by each other at the same time. Stanley is an incarnation of masculine ideal of those times – strong, self-sufficient and able to protect himself and his family. He can be rude to his family and dear ones but that reflects the spirit of his time when such an attitude to women was not considered like something abnormal. He feels no respect to his wife and does not even feel ashamed when he affords physical abuse. Stella tells her sister after one of his attacks "He was as good as a lamb when I came back and he's really very, very ashamed of himself (Williams, 270). His behavior is justified by the fact that he is a man and all women should obey to his desires. Domestic violence wasn’t treated like something abnormal during the times described and Stanley behaved accordingly.
Hannah Jelkes another female character which gives an idea about the time described. This woman possesses her own artistic vision of life and people who surround her. Hannah travels together with her grandfather and sells objects of art. She is not very experienced in love since she had only two affairs in her life but at the same time she possesses good knowledge of other people and herself. Hannah makes a good thing persuading Shannon to stay with Maxime. At the same time she stays absolutely alone by the end of the play after her grandfather dies. Despite original way of thinking and talent Hannah is not used to take decisions of her own. Like most women of her epoch she is dependant on men, despite her original way of thinking helps her to make her own decisions.
Heavenly Finley, another female character from Sweet Bird of Youth by Williams, is completely dependant on the will of her father. Heavenly's life is ruined after she becomes ill with venereal diseases after a romantic affair with Chance. Chance does not even know about problems he caused to young girl. Heavenly has to go though humiliations and gossips of her family and other people. Lovely affair, which costs nothing for Chance, ruins the young girl’s life. The situation described was a typical situation for the male-dominated society of the time described.
The behavior of Blanche, as well as the Princess and Hannah in William’s other plays, is typical for the epoch described. Their passive obedience is a usual reaction at that time. They take passive roles and do not want to take the responsibility for their lives. Rude attitude and violence become the price for their passiveness. They do not have any kind of freedom, including financial one. Blanche, together with Hannah and the Princess can not find her place in the society. Trying to escape her routing life and come in terms with the loss of her beloved husband, she makes a mistake getting involved in several love affairs. These mistakes can not be forgotten by the society and Blanche’s life is ruined by social opinion at the time when she is close to find her happiness.
All the three female characters are described as helpless victims of social changes they can not adapt. Women are not allowed such a freedom as men and they become victims of their own feelings and desires, which society does not let express freely.
Williams, Tennessee (1998), A Streetcar Named Desire, Cambridge University Press.