Mitch Is A Truly Tragic Character, A Victim Of The American Dream.” A Level English Literature Essay

1187 words - 5 pages

“Mitch is a truly tragic character, a victim of the american dream.”
Tennessee Williams’ 1947 post - war play set in New Orleans shows the contemporary struggle
and great desire to achieve the American Dream in newly industrialised America. In regards to his
presentation of Mitch as a victim of the American Dream, Williams portrays the harshness that
comes with striving for this lifestyle through the protagonist Stanley Kowalski and his relationships
with Southern - Belle Blanche DuBois and Mitch, respectively. A friend of Mitch’s, Stanley is
described as ‘the only one of his crowd that's likely to get anywhere’, as Williams presents this
character as aggressive in his determination. However Mitch is presented as far more gentle,
exemplified through his first appearance in the play, during a game of poker, in which he excuses
himself early to care for his mother. As a male possessing more gentle attributes in a very
masculine environment, Mitch is presented as a fatally flawed character, and in the shadow of
Stanley and the brutality of the American Dream, is a tragic character.
Although possessing pleasant qualities, Mitch’s passive and caring personality renders him fatally
flawed in the post - war culture of the Quarter. Williams uses the protagonist Stanley Kowalski to
emulate the brute aggression and determination needed to fulfill the social construct of the
American Dream. It could be said that Mitch is used as a plot device to emphasise the negativity in
Stanley’s determination: Stanley’s animalistic masculinity is referenced and emphasised
throughout the play, described as a ‘gaudy seed bearer’, who is often seen relaying his emotions in
a brash manner, such as smashing plates or striking Stella, his wife: when he has his first fight with
her he asserts his dominance by telling Stella “I am the king around here, so don’t forget it”.
Williams presents Stanley’s character in a negative light, so the reference to a ‘King’ is not Williams
opinion of Stanley, instead showing how Stanley views himself. This brutish confidence is the
reason why Stanley is ‘the only one of his crowd that's likely to get anywhere’. Juxtaposed with
Stanley’s brutish masculinity, Mitch is more sensitive. Williams’ use of dialogue between Stanley
and Mitch in scene 3 shows this contradiction: when Mitch admits he has to go home to his mother,
Stanley tells him to ‘shut up’. Mitch needing to leave the poker game early as a result of his caring
nature can be seen as a metaphor for the way these characteristics prevent him from succeeding,
and making him fall victim to the American Dream. The confidence that Stanley exudes in his
dialogue is very contradicting to that given to Mitch, who often stumbles over his words: “We've--
been drinking beer.” and “It's--a hot weather drink.”. The simplicity in his language and the short
sentences used, for example in scene 6 when he is speaking to Blanche “I work out there with the
weights and I swim and keep myself fit. When I...

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