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

Visual and Sound Effects in A Streetcar Named Desire

Extracts from this document...


To What Extent are the visual and sound effects important in "A Streetcar Named Desire"? Visual and sound effects are often as critical to the illustration of themes and ideas in a play as the characters themselves, due to the more nuanced ideas they represent. In "A Streetcar Named Desire", visual and sound effects are important in the development of the themes of madness, desire and sex and death. They are also essential in the illustration of the motifs of light and bathing and the symbols of shadows and cries and the varsouviana polka. However, there are a number of other themes, motifs and symbols in the play that are entirely dependent on the actual journeys of the characters, and in no way developed by the visual and sound effects presented. The visual aspect of "A Streetcar Named Desire" was clearly very important to the author; partly perhaps as a result of his interest in the cinema. His stage directions are very detailed, aiming to create an atmosphere that would heighten the impact of the action, though the visually recurring symbols Williams presents. Firstly, throughout the play there is a continual reference to light. It is used in the form of bright sunlight, on the morning following Stella's beating at the hands of Stanley, indicating that they have settled their grievances. ...read more.


Alternatively, the moth could represent Blanche's own wishful view of herself, as an attractive being that men flock to, like moths to a light. As well as visual effects, sound effects are also used. Foremost among them are the "blue piano", representing the spirit of the rundown quarter, the polka for Blanche's guilty memories of her husband, harsh discords for the rape and for Blanche's removal to the mental hospital. The sound effects such as the screech of a cat, or the inhuman voices heard in the climatic tenth scene all add to the chaotic atmosphere and tension arising, or possibly to enhance a feeling of one of the characters. The original script is unusual in that the author included a comprehensive sound effects plot, most notably sounds of passing trains which punctuate the action and heighten the sense of Blanche's being left behind. Also included in sound effects and symbols are the tamale and flower vendors presented throughout the play. In scene nine, we hear the vendor's cry of the Mexican Woman, "flores, flores por los muertos" (flowers, flowers for the dead). It follows the moment when Mitch denounces Blanche as a liar and thereupon refuses to marry her. The vendor's cry becomes symbolic of Blanche's failure to remain among the living. Blanche protests by shouting "no, no! ...read more.


The speaker in the song says that if both lovers believe their imagined reality, then it's no longer "make-believe". These lyrics sum up Blanche's approach to life. She believes that her fibbing is only a means of enjoying a better way of life and is therefore essentially harmless. Blanche's singing in this scene acts as a contrapuntal to Stanley telling Stella the details of Blanche's sexually corrupt past. Williams ironically juxtaposes Blanche's fantastical understanding of herself with Stanley's description of Blanche's real nature. In reality, Blanche is a sham who feigns propriety and sexual modesty. Once Mitch learns the truth about Blanche, he can no longer believe in her tricks and lies. However, although the themes, symbols and motifs presented by sound and visual effects are significant, there are a several additional ideas that are not even touched on by these effects, including the motif of drunkenness, the symbol of meat and the themes of masculinity, marriage, society and class, sex, drugs and alcohol, appearances and morality, to name a few. Furthermore, although visual and sound effects highlight and symbolically represent some other themes and motifs, they do not construct the themes independently of the action and dialogue in the play. Therefore, I must conclude that visual and sound effects play an important, but limited role in the depiction of critical themes in the play, and are therefore central, but not the only constituent elements presented in "A Streetcar Named Desire". Word count: 1, 407 Anja Young 15/03/11 ...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 Other Authors 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 Other Authors essays

  1. Discuss how Blanche is presented by Williams in scene one- seven

    When talking to the young man, she adopts an exotic turn of phrase, calling him a 'young prince' out of the 'Arabian Nights', and stating that her 'makes (her) mouth water'. After Blanche gets what she wants, the thrill of having power over a man, and someone's complete attention, she dismisses him, telling him to 'run along'.

  2. What attitudes towards masculinity are offered in A Streetcar Named Desire

    "Animal joy in his being is implicit in all his movements and attitudes". Williams gives Stanley, short, imperative sentences to say; he is always commanding someone, impatient to be in control. Williams also shows him as un-educated, adding to his brutishness.

  1. A streetcar named desire- Passion liberating and Imprisoning

    Stanley falls to his knees and they hug passionately. It's not the first time he hit her but Stella can't seem to leave him alone, so it appears as a physical magnet. As there is no conversation, it is just a sexual pleasure between Stella and Stanley. She is liberated from his new world behaviour and she is free to enjoy the passion.

  2. A Streetcar named desire- Chapter one

    Blanche talks to her to her older sister Stella about where Stella is currently living as she seems to be disappointed that she has returned to a horrible place, 'I thought you would never come back to this horrible place!'

  1. 'Williams explores the effect of mendacity upon human relations'. Discuss

    'Fire' and 'Burning' are used to show the tension between them especially Maggie who has internal desires and external pressures (coming from the other members of the family). The marriage between Brick and Maggie is finished, they have produced no children and Maggie fails to encourage Brick to sleep with her, 'lets make this lie true'.

  2. How Does Williams want us to feel about Blanche in the opening scene?

    Her sister puts up with it thought, obligingly telling her: "It's just incredible, Blanche, how well you're looking". Blanch is very quick to judge, right from the very start; she is unimpressed by the local area, the neighbours, her sister's home and even her husband's nationality; she ignorantly refers to

  1. Use of Language in Cat and a Hot Tin Roof

    Use of poetic or heightened language- there are images made by the language that should be pretty but have been made ugly by the language "monster of fertility". The image of a pregnant women is suppose to be one of the most beautiful in the world, people say that pregnant

  2. How effectively does Williams establish the theme of conflict in the play A Streetcar ...

    Stanley no longer feels comfortable on his own territory. Audience currently sees Blanche as one with grace, authority, education and social status, while Stanley is shown as a primitive male. As the play progresses, Blanche takes it apon herself to devise a plan for Stella's future - without Stanley.

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