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How does Williams' use of theatrical devices contribute to the dramatic impact of the play? A Streetcar Named Desire was written by Tennessee Williams, which was first performed in 1947

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Introduction

How does Williams' use of theatrical devices contribute to the dramatic impact of the play? A Streetcar Named Desire was written by Tennessee Williams, which was first performed in 1947 in the United States and 1949 in Britain. This play was set in New Orleans, during a period of change from the upper-class southern society, to the new age of modern America. Williams uses various different devices to create dramatic tension in the play, including his detailed and extensive use of stage directions, use of imagery and symbolism, music, and speech of the characters. To contribute to this, Williams uses very descriptive stage directions. This use of poetic stage directions can only be seen when reading the text, as the audiences of the play only see the directors' interpretation of this, therefore the play will be analyzed, as not just a play, but also a text. The first real sign of the playwright's use of dramatic impact appears in the first act when Blanche and Stella are re-united. Blanche appears very uncomfortable in this house as she is described as being "incongruous to this setting", which means she is basically out of place. When Blanche is left alone, she sits down "stiffly" with "shoulders slightly hunched" and "legs pressed close together". These actions show how uncomfortable Blanche is feeling, which gives the audience a view of Blanche's inner-anxiety. ...read more.

Middle

An example of this is the "lurid nocturnal brilliance" of the kitchen. Instead of using music such as the 'blue piano', Williams uses "absorbed silence" to create a very tense and anxious atmosphere as the game of poker, and also the scene, begins. Williams creates a divide of the sexes, the men occupy poker table, and the women are dressing in the bedroom. During the scene, the dialogue keeps switching between the two groups, and the tension increases as Stanley becomes more and more agitated by the distraction of the women. As Mitch shows interest towards the women, Blanche in particular, Stanley becomes increasingly bad-tempered, and impatient. When Mitch shows his femininity, Stanley immediately shuts this out by telling Mitch to "shut up". It is not surprising that Mitch becomes the distraction as the scene continues. Eventually the playwright makes Stanley revert to "yelling" and "bellowing" to show the audience his impatience. Mitch joins Blanche and Stella, and they turn the radio on for a second time. Williams uses the waltz to play on the radio, which is very refined music, as Blanche would greatly appreciate it, but Stanley wouldn't. When Stanley hears the radio again he "stalks fiercely...tosses the instrument out of the window". This shows the audience exactly how animalistic and violent Stanley is. Stella refers to him as a "drunk-animal thing" and he "charges" after her. ...read more.

Conclusion

The playwright uses many theatrical devices to increase the tension in the play, and also build up a very anxious atmosphere. This was achieved in many ways, such as the use of music including the 'blue piano' which often sounded as an argument or violent act took place. Another successful way in which Williams created dramatic tension was the use of time, not only during the scenes, but also from one scene to the next. This showed how the situation may have calmed down during a longer period of time, or still be as tense as the previous scene. Another effective device to create a tense atmosphere in the play was the actions of the characters, and imagery of this. For example Stanley was often described with animalistic actions, and this showed Stanley's power, and also created a tense atmosphere, as if Stanley was a predator waiting to attack his prey. The use of colour, and lighting also contributed to the dramatic effects of the play, as this set the scene, and reflected or contrasted the moods of the characters. An example of this could be the sunlight entering through the windows as the characters were very dismal. Another important dramatic device was the link with the outside world, which portrayed the reality of the situation, such as Eunice and Steve's problems, the prostitute being attacked by the drunkard, and even the use of the telephone as a route of escape for Blanche. ?? ?? ?? ?? By Ravi Khan 12LJ ...read more.

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