• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Awakenings and Changes in Consciousness

Extracts from this document...


Discuss awakenings and changes of consciousness as presented in two or more texts you have studied in class. In drama, plays often seek to achieve one, if not more, of a variety of effects: perhaps to be moralistic, as in many Medieval plays; perhaps simply 'to be' and, in turn, to be art, as in 19th Century drama; more recently, to serve as a visual and theatrical rendering of a playwright's own views on both society of the time and human nature infinite. Though separated by style, centuries and even continents, Ibsen's A Doll's House and Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire both, through their depiction of the events within the play, are able to critique society and mankind by exploring its effect on a central female character. This effect is most tangible in the shift of consciousness both experience: Nora, in philosophical emancipation and Blanche in an unfortunate decline into lunacy. These are both anagnorisis and awakenings in their own way: Nora's most literally, as she has a total overhaul of her values and beliefs, while Blanche's change in consciousness is designed to spark an 'awakening' in the audience. These changes of consciousness mentioned, however, are not the only 'awakenings' depicted in either play. What is interesting is the way in which minor changes and awakenings within the text are able to lead to and affect the protagonist's final shift. If we are to consider Blanche's relationship with Allen, for example, we easily see the ramifications of her own awakening to his 'degenerate' activity. ...read more.


While initially Torvald seems unable to understand Nora's decision and appeals to her conscience and maternity in an effort to make her stay, it is implicit in the text that, two-dimensional though he may appear, the changes produced by her shift in consciousness will eventually force him into an awakening of his own. Parallels may be drawn between Torvald and Stanley; both see themselves as the head of the family; both have a machismo that expresses itself through pride. This pride can be seen also through their self-assurance and arrogance, particularly apparent in their treatment of the women in their lives. As Stanley puts it, rather charmingly, 'Remember what Huey Long said - 'Every Man is a King!' And I am the King around here, so don't forget it!' They are also largely the triggering factor in a series of events that causes or creates a context for the central female character's awakening. When considering minor characters with the plays, we immediately see a foil to Torvald and Stanley: in A Doll's House, it is the affable Dr Rank, and in Streetcar, it is Mitch. These characters make a compelling contrast between the more 'macho' males directly eliciting this awakening or change. Dr Rank, greatest friend of Torvald and tortured syphilis sufferer, is perhaps the only man in the play to treat Nora as an equal. This generates for the audience a clear distinction between how things should be and how they truly are, in terms of human behaviour. ...read more.


Nora goes to remarkable effort to truss it well and obscure its less attractive branches. Ultimately, however, it is stripped bare, as Nora flings off the illusions and petty decorations obscuring her vision and affecting her life. This is a shift not only of consciousness, but, more importantly, into truth. Blanche is represented by light throughout the play. She covers the lamp with a shade in attempt to shield herself from being totally seen - this is a way to obscure herself and to more easily hide the wrinkles that explain her age and experience. When seeing Mitch, she picks dimly lit settings for easy concealment of herself and her skin. Stanley rips off the shade violently and almost sexually and all is revealed: her age, her actions and her abuse. In the face of this brutal honesty, as the light burns brightly, she becomes forced to accept the truth, and moves into her final stage of madness. Ibsen and Williams use a variety of techniques to explore these changes: by introducing minor characters, exploring the effects of the chance and, finally, by depicting them through imagery. Ultimately, however, it is the final image in each that persists - Blanche's outbursts at the hospital staff, who are not her Texan oil magnate, while Stanley looks on; Nora's abrupt final words to Torvald before leaving into the night. These events and images, punctuating the play, use tremendous dramatic effect not only to illustrate to the audience the awakenings of Nora and Blanche but equally, with hope, to instigate some vicarious awakening in the audience themselves. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level A Street Car Named Desire section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level A Street Car Named Desire essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Innocence and Experience in "Atonement" and "The Go-Between"

    5 star(s)

    and Mrs. Maudsley I never saw a sign of disagreement; she went her way and he went his... I should hardly have known they were married." Of all emotions, lust and sexual love are most suppressed, as demonstrated by the atmospheric dinner scene in Atonement.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    The English Patient

    5 star(s)

    All the characters that have been introduced thus far have been entirely altered by the war. Caravaggio, a former thief, has lost not only his thumbs, but also much of his youth and his identity. He can no longer steal, nor can he live any kind of happy life.

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Blanche and Stanley

    4 star(s)

    The "old maid schoolteacher" is really an alcoholic, nymphomaniac and a prostitute. The southern belle who has never known indignity is a mere act, put on to deceive. It is now that her constant insistence upon covering the light parallels her continuous attempts to conceal the truth.

  2. Compare the relationship between Torvald and Nora in A Dolls House with that of ...

    Torvald and Angel react in very similar ways when their wives' secrets are revealed. Torvald refuses to believe what Nora has done, exclaiming "it's impossible, it can't be true!" In this section of the play, Ibsen uses question marks and exclamation marks to great excess to highlight Torvald's melodramatic reaction,

  1. How do Arthur Miller and Tenessee Williams explore the blurring of reality and fantasy ...

    Another aspect each of the authors cover within the plays is that the delusion an individual upholds is always demonstrating the perfect, idealist aspect of life.

  2. How do the authors of 'The Bell Jar' and 'Surfacing' depict madness?

    Even the place where Esther is found after her suicide attempt represents a sense of confinement, as Esther is literally holed up in her basement, "crouched at the mouth of the darkness, like a troll" illustrating how she views herself not as a talented young woman with her whole life

  1. aspects of tension in steetcar named desire

    In Greek mythology Elysian fields is a beautiful resting place for the heroic. Not only is it ironic that Williams has chosen to name a run-down street in New Orleans this but mentally this is where Blanche's journey ends when she is taken into an asylum for the mentally ill.

  2. Comparison between The Tell-tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and Misery by Stephen King.

    On his first go he crashed into the side, "The wheelchair thumped against the right side of the doorway and bounced back a little". His reaction to this was one of great terror and panic, "Did you chip the pain?

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work