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Some critics believe that A Streetcar Named Desire is a failure as a tragedy as it's so ambiguous - audience don't know who to side with. Discuss this view of the play.

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Some critics believe that A Streetcar Named Desire is a failure as a tragedy as it's so ambiguous - audience don't know who to side with. Discuss this view of the play. In many ways Streetcar takes a very untraditional approach to its tragic aspects and follows the more modern domestic tragedies however it does still follow many of the aspects of a classical tragedy according to Aristotle. Aristotle's aspects begins with the hero starting in a high position, whilst Blanche is not in a high position she does act as if she is by looking down on Stella's home. But aspects such as the unity of time, place and action as well as the redemption of the hero are almost completely ignored. This doesn't make it a failure however as particularly with the redemption of the hero these things often turn the play into more of a tragedy; it begins to feel a little more real and relatable this makes life itself seem more like a tragedy and you resign yourself to the idea that the story has no end to it because the tragedy of life will never end. One of Aristotle's aspects that we see quite greatly throughout the play is that of the hubris and the hamartia which is the fatal flaw that causes their downfall. ...read more.


This rings true of Streetcar and is because there is no purity in character, it's not black and white as good people have done bad things and bad people have done good things putting them all on the same level. Again this is because this is how people are in real life, in a classic play it would tell one tale of thousands within a person's life and paint that person in a certain light for that tale, however Streetcar is devoid of the good and the bad as life is, all people do both. According to Todorov's theory of narrative any story should have: a state of equilibrium; a disruption of this equilibrium; recognition of this disruption; an attempt to repair this; and finally comes the reinstatement of the equilibrium. From this theory several views can be made; the first that it does follow this theory and we begin with Stanley and Stella in the state of equilibrium living happily whilst Blanche's arrival and deceit becomes the disruption. The recognition would then be Stanley discovering Blanche's lies, as the attempt at repair would be Blanche trying to leave, and finally the reinstatement as Blanche is taken away. However it could also appear that the narrative of Streetcar is almost in the wrong order beginning in the middle of the stages of disruption and ending long after or possibly before the reinstatement creating a completely new tragedy. ...read more.


Catharsis is another of the many common themes that enter a tragedy, however there is very little of this in Streetcar. It is common that at the end of a tragedy there will be a feeling of catharsis that uplifts the audience; this was attempted in the 1951 adaptation of Streetcar as the times called for an at least seemingly happy ending, however as the cast and crew wished to stay as true to the text as possible they created the setting so that the 'intelligent viewer' would assume the tragic resignation that is seen in the text. This lack of one of the major themes of classic tragedy is another reason why it is called a failure as a tragedy. This resigned idea that life goes on in the same tragic way as the contents of the play and that there is no real ending to the tragedy seems to enhance the actions of the play to the audience as you feel as though it will never stop. It's 'the long parade to the graveyard' instead of having the normal catharsis you feel as though we are just in a constant stream of tragedy that can only end in death of one kind or another. Women in Literature: reading through the lens of gender, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003 Art and Censorship: Elia Kazan's Film "A Streetcar Named Desire" Compared to Tennessee William's Play, GRIN Verlag, 2009 ...read more.

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