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A Streetcar Named Desire - An Analysis of its Imagery and Symbolism

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Introduction

A Streetcar Named Desire: An Analysis of its Imagery and Symbolism The symbolism used within a streetcar named desire lies primarily within its stage directions. Tennessee Williams makes use of figurative language when he illustrates a sound or a description of a scene and its characters within it; the language they use is enriched by figures of speech (most notably the use of metaphor). Music plays a vital role within the play, it represents emotions; and Williams describes such sound in a meaningful way, this is evident from the phrase which closes the opening narrative of scene 1 - 'From a tiny piano being played with the infatuated fluency of brown fingers. This 'blue piano' expresses the sprit of the life which goes on here' Here Williams describes a notion that the black pianist is totally immersed by the skill and fluency of his playing of the blues. He takes pleasure in it; his emanation of pleasurable sound signifies the spirit of New Orleans and how its satisfaction is the foundation of the city's cheerfulness. Examples of these are scattered significantly within the play. The 'blue piano' is a symbol of the heartless vitality of the old squares and quarters dotted within the rundown city of New Orleans; while the 'Varsouviana' polka symbolises Blanche and her promiscuous (and tragic) ...read more.

Middle

are shedding away life and subsequently dying slowly away. Trees deliberately shed away their growth, and Blanche does the same, as aforementioned she continues to dig a deeper grave for herself. This ironic symbol also suggests Blanche's misreading of the meaning of her name, she may have deliberately lie about its meaning, or she may have been so desperate to win Mitch's affections that she needed to lie to secure and win him over. Consequently this would allow Blanche to fulfil her dreams of marriage, and ultimately feel young again. Williams also conveys emphasises on light and dark. The light represents truth and reality, which is both figuratively and literally revealed in Scene 9. In this scene the final confrontation between Mitch and Blanche occurs. Mitch complains the room is dark, and Blanche reveals that the dark is comforting to her. When Mitch tears the paper from the Chinese lantern, he allows it to produce a blinding light. The light shows Mitch Blanche's fading beauty, and figuratively exposes her pretence of righteousness and innocence. Blanche finds the dark comforting because she is not able to see the world in illumination, she casts a dark shadow over the ugliness and cruelty of the real world and is able to hide from it. ...read more.

Conclusion

This allows the audience to identify the symbols and provide their own personal interpretations of their meanings. There are also meaning which are much more hard pressed to identify, and some which may have no even thought of by Williams. A notable image which I found was the image of Blanche and her drinking, which represents Blanche drinking her way to disaster, a her for her to continually escape from the real world. This brings to mind a thought of weakness, in correspondence to the aforementioned image of a waning moth. Blanche lives in an illusion, and fantasy is her final and primary means of defending her shattered sanity. I don't believe that her deceits carry spitefulness, they however come from her weakness and inability to confront the difference between simultaneous reality and fantasy. She views the world in accordance to her own idea of the world, and her fantasy life protects her from the tragedies she has had to endure. This is eventually shattered by Stanley, while Stella leaves the mental hospital is to pick up the rest of the pieces. The ideal of living an illusion is not isolated to Blanche either, Stanley and Stella will also resort to living an illusion, since Stella will force herself to believe that Blanche's accusations against Stanley were utterly false. ...read more.

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