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A Streetcar named desire - Williams uses symbolism effectively not only to convey the fragility in Blanche’s character but also the imposing force that finally destroys her - Discuss and refer to critics in your response.

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Williams uses symbolism effectively not only to convey the fragility in Blanche's character but also the imposing force that finally destroys her. Discuss and refer to critics in your response. Throughout the play symbolism is used to capture attention and to appeal to viewers' emotions. It is expressed through music, colour and imagery all of which help to heighten tension and reflect the atmosphere created by an impending force. A very dominant symbol used throughout the play is music. It portrays Blanche's headlong descent into disaster, which is inevitable because of her fragile state. The constancy of the sound of the recurring "blue piano" creates an impression of a foreboding threat. It could be said that Blanche herself is similar to the Negroes who invented the blues music so prevalent in New Orleans. The blues expresses the isolation and depression portrayed by Negroes who were taken from their homelands in Africa and the Caribbean to the Deep South of America and were forced to work as slaves in the cotton fields. Blanche could relate to their emotions of melancholy and anguish, although she would have been a slave owner back in Belle Reve. ...read more.


"Blanche's mental state retreats into the past while the real action of the play moves inexorably forward." ( As soon as Blanche arrives in New Orleans, the audience immediately get an impression of a delicate, fragile and feminine character. " In America's Deep South, flighty, neurotic Blanche Dubois descends to stay with her sister Stella." ( This comment captures the character of Blanche perfectly. " Her appearance is incongruous to the setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit...looking as if she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party." Williams uses the stage directions to conjure up this detailed picture of Blanche and how he intended the audience to interpret her. Her clothes are an important symbol for her character. She still dresses as if she is in the past, trying to maintain the stereotypical image of a southern belle. At first the audience may not immediately grasp the importance of Blanche's clothes, but as the play continues Stanley is introduced and becomes a stark contrast to her. "...Roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes, Stanley carries his bowling jacket and a red stained package from a butchers." ...read more.


The music in this scene and throughout the play is highly metaphorical as it illustrates the inharmonious Stanley who eventually succeeds in his conquest over the more melodic Blanche. The distorted shapes on the walls and the jungle cries, symbolise human cruelty while the menacing lurid shadows and reflections increase as Blanche becomes more panicked. It is evidence of her hysteria and insanity and an indication of the effect that the terrors of the night Allan died are still with her. The shadows and distorted cries show Blanche's final departure from reality in the face of Stanley's physical threat. They are surrounding her, impressing on her, giving her no escape. It conveys the impression of prey trapped by a predator before a kill. This image of Stanley as a dominant predator is shown in his aggression and domination over Blanche. Stanley is the human symbol for the relentless fate that gradually breaks her down. Symbolism is a very effective technique that Williams uses to convey his main points throughout the play. It is also an essential part of the portrayal of Blanche's fragility, especially in the metaphor of a delicate moth, vulnerable to the world. It is also used to create an atmosphere of tension and threat, portraying the imposing force of Stanley and the inevitable fate of Blanche. ...read more.

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