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Discuss the role of music and other sound effects in A Streetcar Named Desire

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Discuss the role of music and other sound effects in 'A Streetcar Named Desire Often when in convocation with another person a generally meaningless comment can have a profound ability to offend someone more than a deliberately vulgar outburst; this is due to the tone in which the person delivers his remake. Tone as described in the "Oxford Dictionary" is 'the sound of a person's voice, expressing a feeling or mood,' and is an essential tool in the way people communicate with each other to express there feelings and experiences. In author "Tennessee Williams" 'A Street Car Named desire' a play about two sisters from the south living out there separate lives, meet again in New Orleans during a pivotal moment in each of there journeys; tone is a vital tool in expressing there emotional trials and tribulations within the book. As while reading the book it is not possible to hear the tones in which the characters use to express themselves, it is done through the stage directions. ...read more.


The tone of the speech is very much linked to the colour of the piano, intending the speech to portray a time of sorrow of Blanches life. The last and probably the most symbolic aspect the image of the "blue piano" withholds is the forthcoming of Stella and Stanley's new baby. The arrival of the baby mentioned in unison with the play of the "blue piano" foreshadows that the birth or even just the babies being with strike up conflict within the characters in the book and may lead to a rift in there relationships. Another musical effect portraying tone is the song of the Polka. The song features at the end scene one during a conversation where Blanche and Stanly were flirting. The polka song is meant to symbolize the death of Blanche's husband; ambiguously the line "The music of the polka rises up, faint in the distance" refers to her husband in a literal sense, as to Blanche, her husbands memory is faint in the distance, from a time long past, but still it faintly lives on within her. ...read more.


This is a pivotal moment within the opening scenes for it reveals three things. Firstly that Stella is uncomfortable with her husbands over eagerness to pursue issues that do not relate to him. This makes her insecure for it means she is unable to with hold her own secrets, for if Stanly new she held them he would interrogate her until she told him or worse. The is related to the first, in that Stella feels she has no control over her life for she is forced to do what Stanly wants, which is portrayed in that he does not listen to what Stella want and interrogates Blanche; which against Stella wishes. Thirdly Stella feels Stanly is far to curious of Blanche and feels slightly threatened by her sister as she feels Blanche may steal Stanley away from her. A Streetcar Named Desire is a play driven upon an emotional rollercoaster colliding with opposing personalities ensuring for furious confrontations. Tennessee Williams use of stage directions to provoke the tone of the characters allows for vivid imagery and powerfully tense moments. ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This is a good essay which shows both knowledge of the text and a number of different points in relation to sound and stage direction. More quotes were needed. With better written mechanics and punctuation, it would have achieved 4 stars. ***

Marked by teacher Karen Reader 03/04/2012

Here's what a star student thought of this essay

3 star(s)

Response to the question

This essay responds well to the task. There is a clear appreciation of the significance of music and sound effects in A Streetcar Named Desire, and drama in general. I was slightly confused as to why they spoke of the ...

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Response to the question

This essay responds well to the task. There is a clear appreciation of the significance of music and sound effects in A Streetcar Named Desire, and drama in general. I was slightly confused as to why they spoke of the stage directions and music enhancing the book when reading, as this shows a misinterpretation of the context. This essay picks up on the main points, but sometimes the analysis is basic. There needed to be some appreciation of dramatic effect on stage, and how the audience respond when they hear the music.

Level of analysis

The analysis in this essay is sound, and shows potential at times. When writing about music in A Streetcar Named Desire, it is vital you talk about the blue piano. This essay picks up on this recurring situation, ably explaining how it is linked to Blanche's tragedy. Words such as "foreshadow" are used well, but I just feel this paragraph could've been more sophisticated if it spoke of the blue piano as a motif and then explained why Williams uses this. If this essay had drawn about the effectiveness of the blue piano in contextualising Blanche's tragedy to the audience, this would've gained credit for example. I know it's difficult to analyse language and imagery when the essay is asking specifically about music, but it must be present in a GCSE essay if you want to gain the top marks. If I were answering this question, I would be looking at how Blanche's speech alters when the blue piano is playing, showing how the music symbolises her loss of control evident through her language. What I particularly liked in this essay was the awareness of music being used in pivotal moments, showing how music is used to shape the structure of the play. There needed to be more quotes in the last paragraph detailing this to give some evidence, however.

Quality of writing

This essay has a solid structure, having a clear introduction defining music and its significance. I liked this approach as it allows for a focused argument which engages with the question. The conclusion is short, but weaves together the previous points to come to a justified judgement. There are numerous slips in spelling, punctuation and grammar, however. Errors such as "thought" instead of through, and "Stanly" instead of Stanley simply detract from any quality analysis in an essay. A simple proof read can make an essay appear much more sophisticated and in control as errors are ironed out.

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Reviewed by groat 05/04/2012

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