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Examine the Presentation of America in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

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Introduction

Examine the Presentation of America in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. In the first scene of the play, one of the central protagonists, Blanche DuBois, is seen arriving at Stella's (her sister) home in Elysian Fields, where 'her appearance looks incongruous to the setting'. The contrast of the character to her setting, and her conflicts with the other characters is a motif used throughout the play to explore the social and cultural changes occurring in America when the play was originally published. We are introduced to the setting of the play in scene one, a street called Elysian Fields in a run-down quarter of New Orleans. The name Elysian Fields is ironic since, in classical mythology, it is meant to be paradise; the stage directions indicate the street is anything but! The area is described as poor, and the atmosphere is one of decay. ...read more.

Middle

Belle Reve translated from French means beautiful dream, which seems fitting for its description as 'a great big place with white columns'. We get an idea of its grandeur when Eunice, the Mexican neighbour, comments in scene one, "A place like that must be awful hard to keep up." The house is representative of old American life: a wealthy household, inhabited by an established Aristocratic family living off the toil of immigrant servants. At one point Blanche naively enquires of Stella, "You have a maid, don't you?" This grand lifestyle was difficult to sustain and is echoed in the fragile and vulnerable nature of Blanche's character. Early on she reveals her aristocratic pretensions in her casual dismissal of Eunice in the first scene. She never lets us forget her learning when she sprinkles her conversations liberally with allusions to great American authors and poets. ...read more.

Conclusion

His aggressive, huckstering presence causes Stella to remark, "Stanley's the only one of his crowd that's likely to get anywhere" because "It's a drive that he has" in scene three. We get an extreme view of his domineering character and immorality in the penultimate rape scene. In his presentation of Blanche and Stanley, two diametrically opposed characters, Williams draws a parallel to the condition of post-Second World War America. In Blanche, he laments the passing of the culture of the old American South, but is quick to point out its hypocrisies. In Stanley, he reflects the urgency of the New America, but warns of its lowbrow culture, immorality and greed. We see Stanley gradually destroy Blanche through the duration of the play, mirroring the destruction of old America. However, with the birth of Stella's baby and the mixing of the two families' bloodlines, perhaps we are seeing hope for America's future? Ivan de Mello ...read more.

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