• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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.

Extracts from this document...


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE A Streetcar Named Desire section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE A Streetcar Named Desire essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    How important are illusion and fantasy as themes in A Streetcar Named Desire?

    3 star(s)

    Stella betrays her sister just for the sake of making her marriage happier and that is why, when Blanche is sent off to the asylum, the situation remains the same between Stella and Stanley. Not only does Stella live in a fantasy world but Blanche herself does too, till Stanley crushes it.

  2. Peer reviewed

    Discuss the deterioration of Blanche's state of mind in the play A Streetcar Named ...

    3 star(s)

    'Why, you haven't shaved! The unforgivable insult to a lady! But I forgive you. I forgive you because it's such a relief to see you. You've stopped that polka tune that I had caught in my head.' The truth of Blanche's drinking problem arises when she talks with Mitch at

  1. Peer reviewed

    Was Stanley Kowalski the reason for Blanche's downfall?

    3 star(s)

    Stanley's brutality is shown in several places during the course of the book. For example, his first array of brutality is evident at the poker night when he throws the radio out of the window. Nevertheless it is Blanche who turns on the radio back on while chatting to his

  2. A Streetcar Named Desire - scene by scene analysis.

    Mitch enters and he too has been drinking. Blanche offers him her lips, which he ignores. Blanche brushes aside the fact that Mitch stood her up and offers him a drink. He is cold towards Blanche and says that he doesn't want any of Stan's liquor. He also comments on the fact that Stanley told him Blanche has been lapping it up all summer like a wild cat.

  1. Symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire

    Not only does the 'blue piano' make us feel restless and impatient but it has also been used as a reminder for its target audience. At the end of scene seven, Blanche comes out of the bathroom and is curious over her sister's strange behaviour.

  2. A Streetcar Named Desire

    Stella and Stanley are forced to live a lie and it is obvious that illusions will never overcome the truth. Stanley's realty has beaten Blanche's fantasy and Blanche's admission to a mental institution, is clear proof that Stanley's aggressive and brutal reality is no match for Blanche's fragile and beautiful illusions.

  1. Plot of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

    Well, I needed somebody, too. I thanked God for you, because you seemed to be gentle - a cleft in the rock of the world that I could hide in!" (page 100) > An old Mexican woman comes around the corner selling flowers for the dead.

  2. The Analysis of Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

    By contrast, the only person who shows some compassion and understanding to her is Mitch. She is immediately aware of his difference and recognizes a similar sensitivity to hers in him. But this is not a sensitivity of an educated, intelligent and high- spirited man but of one who had endured life's trials and takes care of a dying mother.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work