A Streetcar Named Desire conforms to the expectation that a major theme of Williams' plays is that of human sexuality. Various aspects of human sexuality are explored through the diversity and complexity of the characters. Whilst Stanley Kowalski epitomises masculinity through his primal strength and power, and the increasingly fragile Blanche DuBois attempts to cling to the feminine role of the Southern Belle, these are only aspects of their characters. The fact that their relationship is one of conflict, is representative of their worldviews. However, to reduce A Streetcar Named Desire to the level of mere 'battle of the sexes' would be too simplistic and does the play an injustice by choosing to ignore its complexities.
Superficially, at least, Blanche DuBois conforms to prevailing concepts of gender wherein she adopts characteristics that are seen to epitomise femininity. Such traits are conceived as constituting feminine behaviour, and include characteristics such as passivity, acquiescence and emotionality.
Whilst these traits are certainly evident in Blanche DuBois, she is, of course, a far more complex character than such simplification would first suggest and, therefore, cannot be so easily labeled. It would be perhaps more accurate to consider Blanche in light of Judith Butler's suggestion that "gender is something that we 'do' "(Selden, 116). This concept more accurately encapsulates the sense that Blanche chooses to adopt a role of femininity, effectively playing a part by conforming to a stereotypical role, in this case, that of the Southern Belle. The adoption of this role provides Blanche with a relatively stable sense of identity, or at least an aspect of identity, necessary for her own self-preservation. As with Amanda Wingfield, in The Glass Menagerie, Blanche DuBois seems to struggle in a changing world and by adopting an aspect of identity that is associated with the past,