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How do you respond to the view that Williams uses both music and stage directions to create an appropriate atmosphere and to reinforce his major themes in the play?

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Introduction

How do you respond to the view that Williams' uses both music and stage directions to create an appropriate atmosphere and to reinforce his major themes in the play? Scene Ten of Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire' can be seen as the climax of the play, as many of the recurring motifs that are apparent throughout the performance lead to the rape in this scene. The 'blue piano'1 is music which according to the playwright 'expresses the spirit of what goes on'2 in the area of New Orleans in which the play is set. However, it is clear that 'what goes on'3 in the street is not necessarily an atmosphere that many musicians would wish to portray - there are frequent scenes of violence and criminal offence in the area, which Blanche and many members of the audience will not be used to. The tune is also heard when Blanche remembers her late husband, who suffered a premature death which she feels responsible for. The 'blue piano'4 music can therefore be associated with chaos and misery for Blanche, and so when it 'begins to drum up louder'5 in the scene, it can be seen to foreshadow the nightmarish situation that the character is about to be forced into. Although the 'blue piano'6 music is frequently heard throughout the play, Scene Ten also includes another piece of music that adds drama and tension: 'hot trumpet and drums'7 are played just prior ...read more.

Middle

Earlier in the play, the relationship that the brother- and sister-in-law shared could have been described as equal: they both had the ability to see through each other (Blanche with her knowledge that Stanley would continue to domestically abuse Stella, and Stanley who had 'been on to'25 Blanche's lies since he first met her). However, Stanley's boldly aggressive stage directions, such as 'slamming the door'26, show that he is the alpha-male, and is in control. This affiliation could be compared to the relationship between the Northern and Southern states of America: before the American Civil War, they were seemingly equal, but after the defeat of the South, it became evident that the North was to stay in control. Ultimately, the South could not survive and prosper without the help of the more successful Northern states. As is shown in the previous point, the battle between Stanley and Blanche can be compared to the North-South divide in the United States of America at the time, one of Williams' major themes in the play. This is illustrated not only in their general characters, but also in more specific stage directions. Subsequent to Blanche's desperate attempt to telephone her 'friend' Shep Huntleigh, she leaves the phone off the hook, so Stanley 'crosses to it deliberately'27. This purposeful and determined nature is mirrored in the North of America's forward-thinking ways; in contrast, Blanche simply 'waits anxiously'28, similar to how the Southern states were refusing to adapt to a more modern lifestyle, choosing instead to keep their traditional customs and wait for modern life to regress. ...read more.

Conclusion

Penguin Classics; 2000 13 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 14 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 15 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 16 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 17 Nelson, Benjamin; 'Drama Criticism'; Gale; 1994 18 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 19 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 20 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 21 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 22 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 23 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 24 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 25 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 26 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 27 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 28 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 29 Woolway, Joanne; 'Drama for Students'; Gale; 1997 30 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 31 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 32 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 33 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 34 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 35 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 36 Williams, Tennessee; 'A Streetcar Named Desire'; Penguin Classics; 2000 ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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