Explore Williams' presentation of Stanley as a character with whom the audience cannot sympathise in A Streetcar Named Desire. You must relate your discussion to relevant contextual factors.

In presenting Stanley's relationship with his wife Stella, Williams portrays him as a vicious partner who sees the bond between them as hierarchical, hence making him seem unsympathetic to, in particular, a modern audience. In scene one, even the stage directions seem to depict him as womanising; the line 'the centre of his life has been pleasure with women' emphasising this. The fact that sex has been 'the centre of his life' illustrates just how the developing North American South no longer valued the gentlemanly behaviour Blanche is so desiring throughout the play. This line also brings up questions of his loyalty to Stella as a partner, and seemingly Williams is trying to foreshadow how he betrays her by brutally raping her sister - 'we've had this date with each other from the beginning!' - and hence Williams is displaying how, to Stanley, as the masculine figure in the relationship, he can do whatever he likes while Stella bears the submissive status. The line 'every man is a king! And I'm the king around here so don't forget it!' further demonstrates how Williams is portraying how Stanley callously regards his marriage, and that Stella is ruled over by Stanley as a husband, and therefore a 'king'. In the 21st century, Williams' Stanley would especially be seen as impossible to sympathise with in this regard due to the recent rise in feminist thinking, further campaigns for gender equality and greater awareness of domestic violence. Hence, Stanley's portrayed actions within his marriage would be understood as categorically shameful. However, at the time of the first performance, the audience's reception would have been very different, as in many ways Stanley represented the world at the time, one of masculinity, machines and fierce individualism. Consequently, that audience would have been more likely to sympathise with him, despite his violent treatment of his wife.

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