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Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire.

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Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire. Calling Stanley an animal, and a 'survivor of the stone age', Blanche claims there has been 'some progress', and she tells Stella, 'Don't- don't hang back with the brutes!' By comparing A Streetcar Named Desire with at least one other text, discuss ways in which the theme of 'progress' is explored in 20th Century American Literature. During this essay, I will examine what 'A Streetcar Named Desire', and 'The Great Gatsby' by Scott Fitzgerald portray about progress in America, and the sacrifices people may have made because of this. Literature often shows a darker side to society, and points out the faults. Literature could be described as a critique of society. By 1947, when Tennessee Williams wrote the play; A Streetcar Named Desire, America had become the most dominant country. Wealth was very important to the Americans, which was often gained through illegal, or immoral means as people had become greedy. In The Great Gatsby, Scott Fitzgerald is stating that the American Dream of wealth and beauty is fragile, For example, the sense of wonder of the first settlers in America quickly turned into an ostentatious, ...read more.


She is also in touch with her emotions. Tennessee Williams states, through this symbolic use of characters, that the genteel ways of the Old South have been forever destroyed by the coarseness and brutality of the modern age. Blanche fights to save her Old Southern roots and the family mansion, but looses them both, but then also, is unable to adapt to Stanley and Stella's way of life at Elysian Fields. This shows that people are products of their past as shown by Blanche being destroyed by events in her life. Because of this, the mood of the entire play is dark and sombre, a reflection of the decadence and loss described in the play. Blanche represents the fallen aristocracy of the South, is a misfit who is trying to straighten out her life while taking refuge in New Orleans with her relatives, Stanley and Stella Kowalski. Stanley is a domineering man with common ways, is set against Blanche, and is ultimately responsible for her descent into insanity and placement in the state institution. ...read more.


This detail suggests almost that he has been hunting. There are also stereotypical gender roles, as he throws the meat to Stella through the window as she is indoors, which suggests that it is her responsibility to prepare it, and his to provide it. Stanley is a man who hasn't really progressed very much from early man, and sometimes is described in terms of an animal. Stella describes him as "a different species." She is aware that Stanley is from a different culture to the two sisters, but Blanche is shocked that Stella is proud of Stanley. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams paints a picture of a society in a state of transition and uncertainty. Blanche is trying to live in an idealised past, but her harsh present reality destroys her. The graceful world of the Southern plantation has gone. The reality of post-war America is the brutish and graceless nature of Stanley and his poker playing friends who, most of them lack caring qualities, especially in the ways that society deals with it's more vulnerable members. Economically and materialistically, America has made progress, but many, such as Fitzgerald and Williams, would argue that it is at the expense of culture and emotion. ...read more.

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Related AS and A Level A Street Car Named Desire essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    How much is Desire a force for destruction in the play 'A Streetcar Named ...

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    of her possessions are simply part of her elaborate fantasy), but also her shadowy and shameful past. Stanley from this moment on suspects Blanche of everything named, but also leads him to the conclusion that if so many other men have had intimate encounters with her, then surely he should be allowed the same.

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

    She talks of Stella saying, 'I call her little in spite of the fact she's somewhat older than I. Just slightly. Less than a year.' She is however older than Stella. * We are told that Blanche is from an aristocratic background from her name.

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

    Blanche left her home to join her sister, because her life was a miserable wreck in her former place of residence. She admits, at one point in the story, that "after the death of Allan (her husband) intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with" (Williams, 178).

  2. In what ways can 'A Streetcar Named Desire' be seen as a modern tragedy?

    despite all this evidence providing sympathy with Blanche, Williams seems determined to keep the balance of right and wrong utterly ambiguous. For example in Scene Eight, soon after Blanche's extremely poignant line "candles burn out in little boys' and girls' eyes" - a clear reference to her past with Grey - she calls Stanley a "healthy Polack".

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

    This action shows how Stanley is slowly gaining more control of the situation, degrading Blanche, and pushing her to leave more and more. Another of his spiteful 'jokes' towards Blanche is his present to her, from him, a bus ticket back to Laurel.

  2. Language in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

    (Meaning Stanley) I think this reiterates her childish side she doesn't think of other people's feelings, or what the consequences might be. Her self obsession is also quite prominent in Tennessee's writing, "1? I!" (page 49), she's quite self-reflective, this again links with how childlike she is.

  1. Blanche and Mitch's relationship in "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams.

    I think that one of the things that went wrong was how shocked Mitch was that Blanche could be so deceptive. He had never even suspected that she was dishonest and it came as a blow because it was so unexpected.

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

    * His sister Rose - Like her mother descended into madness. She was lobotomized in 1937. Clearly Williams seems to have close links with the insanity of a loved one, and can therefore identify well with Stella at the end of the play when she thinks she herself has done something wrong.

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