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A streetcar named desire - Tennessee Williams uses a variety of imagery and symbolism's in the play - How do these aspects contribute to the atmosphere of the play?

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Introduction

Tennessee Williams uses a variety of imagery and symbolism's in the play. How do these aspects contribute to the atmosphere of the play? The imagery and symbolism in the play are used by Williams to appeal to the senses and emotions of the audience and to help to create an atmosphere. Williams used imagery in the stage directions to attract the audience (or readers) attention. He makes use of the evocative power of figurative language when he is trying to convey in words the quality of a particular sound. " The infatuated fluency of brown fingers" (scene 1) this conveys the black pianist's skilful playing expressing the spirit of New Orleans. It portrays an atmosphere of the run-down slum areas of the Deep South. This imagery of the "blue piano" is introduced at the very start, and continues throughout the play, each time symbolising Stanley and his almost sinister character, and emphasising its importance. The constancy of this symbolism creates a threatening and foreboding impression, as whenever the " blue piano" is played some significant event happens, or a violent act from Stanley which will be essential for the development of the plot " Over her head he grins through the curtains at Blanche. ...read more.

Middle

The audience are given an insight into her mind, and become even more aware of the indication of her unstable mentality. " Polka music sounds, in a minor key faint with distance". This was the last dance Blanche had with Allan and the memories, blame and torment of it forever haunts her. The headlong rush of a locomotive is the symbolism of relentless fate, and impending force. Like the blue piano it creates tension and a suggestion of a threat. It is usually present when Stanley is around, and this imagery portrays Stanley's character as very forceful and aggressive. " Outside a train approaches. They are silent till the noise subsides. They are both in the bedroom. Under the cover of the train noise Stanley enters from outside." It gives the impression of inevitability and that what is about to happen cannot be changed. I looked up as we rounded the corner at the last terminal of the Toronto airport. There was a mass of people as far as I could see all chatting to each other in different languages as they waited for their friends ...read more.

Conclusion

She lives in darkness, but once she was blinded by light. " I made the discovery- love. all at once and much, much too completely. It was like you suddenly turned a blind light on something that had always been half in shadow." The image of light and dark symbolises Blanches love for Allan. Consequently when he died she felt ever in darkness and sorrow. "The searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again." This light and dark imagery is a reference to Blanche's metaphor for a moth, which is a symbol extended through the play. She is symbolised as a fragile, delicate creature that cannot touch light. " ...as well as her white clothes that suggests a moth." Blanches lack of colour also emphasises this. The "desire" in the title is a symbol as it represents Blanches descent into disaster that develops throughout the play. Blanche is the main focus of the play; so much of the symbolism and imagery is centred on her. Imagery and symbolism are deliberate expresses of emotion that Tennessee Williams uses to create atmosphere with this play. ...read more.

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