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A streetcar named desire - Exploration notes context/structure/language/plot&subplot/visual aural spatial.

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Introduction

A Streetcar Named Desire Exploration Notes: Context The play Streetcar Named Desire (hereafter SND) was written in 1947 at a very unstable time in American society. A time of 'American Realism', which was about the corruption of the American dream. The events of the time clearly had a big influence on Williams' work and inspired a lot of his writing. * Part of context of the play is the concept of the civil war and the North- South divide on the issue of slavery, with Blanche representing the southern states of America, and Stanley representing the North. Before the civil war, the south of America was incredibly rich, in comparison with the North, due in the greater part to cotton production. The North was poor at this time and struggling economically. However, after the war, with the abolition of slavery the economic balance power shifted, as the prosperity had depended on slave labour. Production fell and with it the wealth of the South. * The parallels between the above and the relationship between Blanche and Stanley are very clear. Initially Blanche, as a guest in the house, has the power. Her behaviour reflects this and earns her some respect from Stanley. A further parallel can be drawn between the wealth of the North as opposed to the South and the way in which, at the beginning of the play it is implied that Blanche has some money and this has a great bearing on Stanley's respect for her. Also, Stanley and Blanche are almost at war at one point in the play, when he surreptitiously finds out things about her old life, and just as in the civil war the North was victorious, Stanley comes out on top. Just as the fortunes of the South declined following their defeat and inability to move on from their slave-labour past, Blanche's mental state, too, declines and she is taken away, unable to move on from her past. ...read more.

Middle

* Stanley, more than others, seems to use a lot of basic language, giving him almost a sense of power and straight forward strength, which is what his character is about: he's direct about things and uses force to get what he wants. His earthy tones, in contrast to Blanche's poetic speeches, separates the characters very well and it also to increases his dominance over her. * An example of low Lexis is 'Mitch: Mother is sick...She won't live long' the language is simple and serves purpose to communicate exactly what Mitch wants to say. > Poetic language is also used a lot in the play. Though as I stated earlier, mostly only with the female characters. Its main purpose is to fortify the theme of dreams as opposed to reality, and shows the way Blanche thinks her way through things. It sets Blanche apart from most of the other characters, and almost adds to the superiority that she feels towards Stella in her humble home, and other characters. * Using this kind of language shows how pointedly different she is from the other characters, and how she can't keep her head out of her dreams. Towards the end it seems that this is possibly all she had left, her dreams still clouded with her poetic language. * A good example of poetic language in the play is in one of Blanche's main speeches: _______ > Symbolic language in the play is mainly used by the women, namely Blanche. She makes long, emotive speeches about her feelings and about death and about Belle Reve, the place she can't seem to let go of. The number of adjectives and the juxtaposition she uses when she talks creates a very dreamlike haze around her, which draws in people like Mitch, which also links with her background. All the imagery and illusion she uses in her speech is highly emotive and allows us to see deeper into Blanche's character. ...read more.

Conclusion

And again, it reflects the overall mood of the scene. In the stage directions for one particular scene, it says 'the blue piano comes in, in a minor key'. The minor key creates a sad and yearning feeling. The Versouviana is probably the most important piece of music in the play. It is the polka tune that was playing at the moment Blanche's life changed forever, when Allan shot himself; probably the start of her decline. It seems to surface at times of very high emotion for Blanche, for example when she is recounting the story of that night to Mitch in chapter six. The tune definitely symbolises her gradual descent into madness. The sound reiterates the themes of madness, illusion, corruption and even of love, if one considers Blanche's early love in life. Spatial effects * Size of Set - The set is very small, which is important because the confined space places the characters in very close quarters with each other. This adds to emotional tension between them. I think this is the reason why Stanley takes out his frustration on Stella, as there is nowhere else for him to go. The theme of sexual desire, along with the pent up emotion in the house plays a huge part. There is a big difference between this place and the grand Belle Reve where Stella and Blanche used to live. This highlights the difference in classes and the difference between wealth and poverty, as also evidenced between the North and the South during and after the civil war. * We explored the visual, aural and spatial elements in the 'work in progress' we performed. We had a very limited available space, and were very close to the audience, so we had to work in very close quarters with other performers. For the visual elements, we were able to choose our own simple elements towards the costume. Aurally, projecting appropriately to an audience at such close quarters was a skill to be mastered. ...read more.

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