Stanley are actually “rhinestones”1 on a “tiara”1,

Stanley is presented as cruel
through his psychological brutality. As soon as Stanley finds out the ‘truth’
about Blanche he proceeds to torment her for the rest of the play which leads
her to insanity at the end of the play. His desire in finding out the truth
stems from his mask of false virtue. In scene three this is evident when he
searched through Blanches belongings after Stella told him about Belle Reve.
After assuming that Blanche sold it off, he uses the “Napoleonic code”1
to act as though he is protecting Stella from being “swindled”1 by
her sister. However, the Napoleonic code favours him as he would get the money
and so Stanley is using this code to assert his patriarchal power over Stella
to claim Belle Reve as his own.  So, when
Stella is presented as the voice of compassion by Williams as she explains that
the “diamonds”1 on Blanches “crown”1 (as Stanley states)
are actually “rhinestones”1 on a “tiara”1, Stanley does
not want to believe this as it would go against his fantasies. Yet again, in
scene 5, Stanley acts as though he is trying to find out the truth about
Blanche by mentioning “hotel Flamingo”1, when what he really wanted
to do was shame her and get revenge on her to uphold his male dominance. The
audience are immediately made to feel sympathy for Blanche by Williams’ use of
dramatic irony. The fact that Stanley now knows what the audience already knew,
Blanche used to be a prostitute, makes the audience feel dread as we know that
Stanley would use this information to harm her. Stanley only seeks factual
truths rather than the psychological truth which is why, unlike the audience,
he is unable to understand her. Williams is suggesting through Stanley that
“all cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness”1. Stanley is not honest
because if he was then he would tell the whole truth and not only get facts
from other sources but also from Blanche herself. This can be seen in scene
seven when he tells Stella about Blanche being a prostitute and getting “mixed
up”1 with a seventeen-year-old boy. As Stanley did not state that
the only reason that happened was because Blanche was going through the trauma
of her husband’s death that happened when he was around that boy’s age, shows
that he was not telling Stella this out of his need of being truthful. This was
also the case when he told Mitch this information, Stanley was acting as though
he was being a good friend when in fact he only told Mitch to ruin Blanche’s
life with her one chance at happiness.

1
Tennessee Williams – New York Times – 1975

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