Tag Archives: domestic violence

Scene 3: how does Williams represent the relationship of Stanley and Stella?

Scene 3 contains one of Tennessee Williams’ most famous scenes where we see Stanley and Stella have a terrible row, resulting in Stella being hit.

Williams presents Stanley and Stella’s relationship as being complex. You need to think about how and why he does this. In order to think about Williams’ representation of their relationship, answer these questions in your groups.

What does Williams present as the causes of the row they have?

How is the conflict between Stanley and Stella provoked by Blanche’s presence?

How do Blanche and Mitch get to know each other in this scene? How does their burgeoning relationship contrast with Stella and Stanley’s one?

How and why does Stella return back to Stanley? What is Williams showing about their relationship here?

How do the stage directions represent their relationship?

What language is employed by the couple: what nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs do they commonly use? How do their registers differ?

Please respond for homework.

Why is Scene 3 of the play so violent and disturbing?

Learning Objectives: to develop your reading skills by learning how to work out the underlying meanings of the play — its symbolism, its themes, its use of subtext. To reflect upon the key themes and topics of the play; domestic violence and sexual desire. To learn about patriarchal discourses of control and power. To develop your own powers of reader-response.

Some useful terminology:

Patriarchal discourses: these are groups of words, phrases which are used by men to assert control and power over women. You can look for them in any text (every day speech, plays, poems etc) The whole point of these words is they carry the message that men are better than women.

Feminist discourses:¬†these are discourses (groups of words) that assert women’s EQUALITY with men. They are NOT the opposite of patriarchal discourses which assert that men are better than women. The opposite of “patriarchal discourses” is “matriarchal” discourses, where women assert that they are better than men (very rare!)

Respond down below by writing your own “reader response” diary about the scene, describing your own feelings at different points in the scene. What do you think of Stanley, Stella, Blanche and Mitch at different points in the scene? When are the times that you are irritated/intrigued/annoyed/scared etc of certain characters?

Some points to think about in your diary

Stanley explodes in Scene 3. Why do you think Williams has characterised him in this way? How is masculinity represented here? What patriarchal discourses are used by him and why? Do you think Williams is trying to say anything about the ways in which men seek to control women?


Here some excerpts from the 1951 film of this scene:

The Rhumba dance:

Stanley crying for Stella:

A rather entertaining school production: