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

Examine Williams' use of imagery and symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire

Extracts from this document...


Examine Williams' use of imagery and symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire Williams uses figurative language in his lengthy stage directions to convey to the reader a deeper, more intense picture than a description alone could express. In the opening stage direction Williams illustrates the area around Elysian Fields. He uses personification to describe "the warm breath of the brown river" (P1). I think this creates an atmosphere that is decaying yet at the same time welcoming and affectionate. This is contrasted by Williams' depiction of the "tender blue" (P1) sky and the "weathered grey" (P1) houses, suggesting a tension hanging over Elysian Fields. Symbolically Elysian Fields, where Stella and Stanley live is the name of the place in Greek mythology where heroes went after death. They were able to return at any time to Earth if they wished but few wished to return and relinquish the pleasure they had found there. I think Williams uses this to reflect Stella's life in Elysian Fields. Stella lives in her own kind of paradise which Blanche is unable to see and she has no desire to return to her old life. Williams in the opening stage directions, introduces the music of the "Blue Piano" (P1). He describes the music as "a tinny piano being played with the infatuated fluency of brown fingers" (P1). ...read more.


(P4). As more is learnt of Blanche's life the symbolism of sex and death in the names of the streetcars can be understood. In scene four Blanche acknowledges that "[a streetcar named Desire] brought me here...where I'm not wanted and where I'm ashamed to be"(P53). I think Williams uses the streetcar "Desire" as a symbol for the sexual part of Blanche's life, which has ruined her. This takes her on to one named "Cemeteries", which will transport Blanche to Elysian Fields and the end of her free life. Symbolically in Laurel, it was "Mr Graves...the high school superintendent" (P9) who forced Blanche to leave and therefore onto her impending end. The streetcar names are also symbolic of the sexual lives of Allan, Blanche's husband who committed suicide when his homosexuality was discovered and Stella, whose desire for Stanley traps her into the committal of her sister and a life where violence is accepted. I think Williams is expressing a view that to be driven by desire is self-destructive. Blanche throughout the play is constantly bathing which becomes another source of irritation for Stanley. Her bathing makes her "feel so good and cool and - rested" (P86) but has to be repeated often. Symbolically Williams uses her bathing as a way for Blanche to cleanse herself of her past and her guilt of Allan's suicide, but as she cannot rid herself of her past her bathing is never over. ...read more.


Williams also uses the characters in A Streetcar Named Desire themselves as symbols. I think he uses Blanche to represent the old days in America of plantation culture entrenched in slavery. She represents a life that is disappearing, as have Blanches dreams, illusions and the family home. In comparison Stanley is symbolic of the new emerging America where immigrants are part of a vibrant, "raffish"(P1) multi cultural community. Stella is able to survive and become part of the future along with her baby. She gave up the old world to be with Stanley who represents the new America. The game of poker figures significantly throughout A Streetcar Named Desire and is symbolic of the relationships within the play. Blanche is operating a good bluff up to scene five as Mitch "thinks [she is] sort of - prim and proper" (P63). I think that Williams uses the game of poker to represent the bluffing and tensions, which occur between Stanley and Blanche. Stanley warns Blanche "to interest [him] a woman would have to - lay...her cards on the table" (P25). At the end of the play as Blanche leaves Elysian Fields "Eunice descends to Stella and places the child in her arms" (P124) and Steve declares, "This game is seven-card stud". Williams uses the poker game to show that Stanley has finished the game with the best hand and won the pot. Stanley has his wife, child, home and friends and Blanche leaves with nothing. ...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

    How does Williams present the character of Blanche in scenes 1-3 of A Streetcar ...

    4 star(s)

    This is an example of how Williams uses speech to present Blanche's character. In the dialogue between her and Stella, she completely dominates the conversation: 'BLANCHE: ...I thought you would never come back to this horrible place!

  2. A Streetcar Named Desire - scenes 2 and 3 reviewed.

    Blanche then asks the question the audience wanted to know, 'Is he married?' She then asks if he is a 'wolf'. This is an animalistic image and it shows her expectation of men. She is looking for protection and he is a possible candidate for that.

  1. A Steercar Named Desire - Blanche's Psychological Breakdown.

    This is clearly evident in A Streetcar Named Desire, one of Williams's many plays. In analyzing the main character of the story, Blanche DuBois, it is crucial to use both the literal text as well as the symbols of the story to get a complete and thorough understanding of her.

  2. How does Tennessee Williams show conflict between Blanche and Stanley?

    The grin represents the confidence in Stanley who has now gained the power over the conflict, by witnessing that Stella is in some how on his 'side'. He now feels stronger with Stella as his back up, against Blanche. At this point Stanley reveals his revengeful side by committing spiteful

  1. Language in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

    She doesn't seem to be her 'own person' anymore, she's a result of all the experiences she's been through previously. It appears that Blanche is most poetic when she feels strongly passionate about something, or someone. Blanche often drifts in the middle of sentences to daydream or contemplate the impossible.

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

    This was possibly the early foundation for her mental decline. * Culture:- there was a depression in American society after the war and much of the American culture at that time was designed to lift spirits and give people a sense of well-being, trying desperately to fake everything being alright,

  1. 'Cat on A Hot Tin Roof' and 'A Streetcar Named Desire' are plays in ...

    This conflicting relationship is reflected in the neurotic refined Blanche, who represents the culture of the past, against the uncultured Stanley, who is the personification and symbolic representation of cynicism, brutality and modern practicality. Williams pays attention to detail in Blanche's description, which allures the reader to her physicality and her mode of thought.

  2. How do you respond to the view that Williams uses both music and stage ...

    Williams' stage directions show Stanley's aggressiveness throughout the play, but in this scene the more specific instruction of 'biting his tongue'30 infers a snake-like slyness. This detail can also be seen to link Stanley to Satan, who transformed into a serpent and encouraged Eve to commit the original sin in the Bible's book of Genesis.

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