• 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)

    She does not want to be seen by the men before she powders herself: she hides behind a mask of manufactured beauty, struggling to stay attractive.

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

    Blanche's final, deluded happiness suggests that, to some extent, fantasy is a vital force at play in every individual's experience, despite reality's inevitable triumph. In Scene Nine, when the Mexican woman appears selling "flowers for the dead," Blanche reacts with horror because the woman announces Blanche's fate.

  1. Language in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

    She also uses the language of a child at certain times, referring to Stella as "baby" and "Stella for star" this could be received in a patronising manner by Stella, but I think it relates to Blanche unconsciously reminiscing on their childhood familiarities.

  2. Streetcar named Desire: dramatic tension

    Blanche and Stella are behaving in a stereotypical female way, gossiping, listening to music and laughing together. All that separates these two rooms is a pair of drapes, but the cultural divide is much stronger. It is like two different worlds, parted by very little.

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

    blood now that we've lost Belle Reve and have to go on without Belle Reve to protect us.' * The vendor shows the danger . 'Red hots! Red Hots!'- This is a subtle warning. It builds the atmosphere. It is all modern, she's trapped trying to hold on to the old.

  2. How do the characters attitudes to sex and sexuality create dramatic conflict in 'A ...

    Just as Blanche has robbed him of his wife and best friend, Stanley uses this information in seeking to destroy Blanche's relationship with both her sister, and her prospective husband - Mitch. However, although through telling Mitch about Blanche's past he succeeds, he is not successful with Stella, as despite

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

    but of course all this was just a false shell over the real America. American Realism was a movement that tried change this. The playwrights/ authors/ painters who were involved in this style aimed to show life how it really is, and not to sugar-coat the truth of society.

  2. Explore Williams use of dramatic symbolism in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'- English Lit

    These primary colours can also be compared in contrast with the pastel colours associated with Blanche, and how her fragility stands out in the rough environment she is in. The three prominent colours in this scene, 'blue', 'white' and 'red', are the colours of the American flag.

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