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How does Tennessee Williams dramatise the tension between reality and fantasy in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'?

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Introduction

Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don't tell the truth, I tell what ought to be truth..." Scene IX How does Tennessee Williams dramatise the tension between reality and fantasy in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'? Tennessee Williams dramatises the tension between reality and fantasy by Characterisation, Theatrical Devices, and by the use of Symbolism. Williams uses Blanche to represent fantasy; Blanche is a magical and romantic character. "Yes, yes, magic! I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don't tell the truth, I tell what ought to be truth..." (p.72) Here Blanche explains that she lies instead of accepting the truth. By lying to herself and others, she makes life appear as it should be, rather than what it is "I tell what ought to be truth." Blanche prefers to live in a world of fantasy, rather than except the truth. Williams has created a very extreme character in Blanche, she always prefers lies to the truth. For example, the loss of Belle Reve, Blanche prefers to believe that it is Stella's fault, for not returning home except for funerals, and not realising that Blanche didn't earn enough money to cover the cost of running Belle Reve, and the funerals. ...read more.

Middle

Blanche is living in her fantasy world, the old world, where men stand when a woman enters the room, but Stanley is in the modern world "Nobody's going to get up, so don't be worried." (p.26) This remark really reminds the audience of the differences between Stanley and Blanche. Williams also uses Music to dramatise the tension between reality and fantasy. As she gets more wrapped up in her fantasy land, Blanche hears the Varsouviana more frequently, the Varsouviana is the polka tune that haunts Blanche in connection with her husband's death. The audience can hear it too, but the other characters cannot. Just before the doctor takes Blanche away, she is hearing the Varsouviana a lot. 'The "Varsouviana" rises audibly as Blanche enters the bedroom.' (p.83) ...'The "Varsouviana" faintly plays.' (p.85) And then 'The "Varsouviana" is filtered into weird distortion,' (p.87) The Varsouviana represents Blanche's fantasy world. It plays when Blanche lapses completely into fantasy, and also seems to explain why she lives in her fantasies. The Varsouviana was the song that was playing when Blanche's husband Allan shot himself. When Blanche sings in the bathroom "say, it's only a paper moon, Sailing over a cardboard sea- But it wouldn't be make-believe if you believed in me!" ...read more.

Conclusion

The specific stage directions that Williams provides means that the director is able to present the play in the way it was meant to be shown, and that the audience will be able to understand what it was that Williams was trying to achieve in his writing. The blue piano is a constantly reoccurring motif that Williams uses to represent that whether we choose to live in fantasy or reality, life still goes on. Whereas only Blanche hears the Varsouviana, and only Stanley realises that much of what Blanche says are lies, all the characters hear the blue piano. 'A Streetcar Named Desire' is a non-naturalistic play, which gives the impression of fantasy. So we could conclude from this that Williams does wish the viewer to be contemplating reality and fantasy as they watch the play. Williams uses symbolism strongly throughout the play; the place names represent the contrast between fantasy and reality; the people are characterised- Stanley representing reality, Blanche representing fantasy; Light is used to represent truth and honesty; and music- the Varsouviana, 'It's only a paper moon' and the blue piano; and Place names help to contrast between reality and fantasy. 1 Hazel Garvey ...read more.

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