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Imagery and symbols

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Introduction

With close reference to the text, imagine the role of imagery and symbolism in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Quotations from the text are in italics. 'A Streetcar Named Desire' is a play enriched with imagery and full of expressionism: it shows the world through the characters' emotions rather than how they literally perceive it. Throughout this play, Tennessee Williams uses various forms of imagery and symbolism to explain and highlight themes and moods. The play often uses symbols to accentuate the thoughts and emotions of the characters, and it is these expressionist elements that I will go on to discuss in this essay. In this piece of writing, I will not only look at the imagery used and the meaning behind it, I will also try to evaluate its role in the functioning of the play. The main motifs of symbolism used in this play are: o Light o Heat o Music o Colour o Titles & Names o Clothes o Reference to animals The most significant imagery in the play is the use of light and shade in the play. Light is, in many ways, a playwright's biggest asset: light (or the lack thereof) can denote tension, fear, and suspense and can be used to draw the audience, to rivet their attention on a certain point. In 'A Streetcar Named Desire', Tennessee Williams, while using it for all of the above reasons, manipulates light in a unique way: light is a physical manifestation of the truth. ...read more.

Middle

with the loos of innocence, specifically hers which was cruelly snatched away from her at Allan's death. This fear of light/ reality portrays her inability to grasp anything real or solid, which is demonstrated when she gasps at her reflection in the mirror. As can be seen, the symbol of light has a major role in the play, and it is impossible to conceive how the play would even function without it. Therefore, we can see that, in the case of the motif of light, the imagery and symbolism related thereof is very important in the play. Another form of symbolism in the play, and closely linked to light, is the theme of heat. This time, however, the imagery is just not related to Blanche, it relates to many of the main characters in the play. In 'A Streetcar named desire', heat represents different individuals response to their body image. Stanley is confident, assured about his image, full of 'power and pride', and his level of comfort with his physical image is the reason why he easily says, 'my clothes're sticking to me'. He sums up his outlook on his self-image when he says 'Be comfortable is my motto'. In this play, heat is also used to accentuate the differences between the characters, and the differences between Mitch and Stanley are emphasised in this way. Stanley simply says 'Do you mind if I make myself comfortable', whereas Mitch says he is 'ashamed of the way he perspires'. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'A Streetcar Named Desire', 'Desire' and 'Cemetery' are two journeys we make in life: one towards our desires, our hopes, dreams and ambitions, and another toward the cemetery, through death ('they told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemetery. These streetcar titles are especially relevant to Blanche and her past life. She has travelled on 'Desire' to get here: it is because of her lustful desires that she is in a position wherein she has to come to Elysian Fields to live with her sister. Other names and titles also hold significance in this play. 'Elysian Fields' is a name that brings an image of peace and tranquillity, which is a definite contrast to the violent actions of the habitants of 'Elysian Fields'. 'Elysian Fields' also indicates a resting place for the dead, and this once again reflects symbolically on the themes of Desire and Death. The last significant name in this play is the title of the plantation, 'Belle Reve'. Earlier on I looked at hope from the point of view of Blanche, and we can see that 'Belle Reve' is a personification of that hope, as 'Belle Reve' means beautiful dream. For Blanche, when she looses 'Belle Reve', she has fully lost all her hopes and dreams, and her journey of 'Desire' begins to come to a halt, and her journey towards the 'Cemetery' begins. In general, the symbolism of titles and names is essential to the theme of the play, and therefore holds a great deal of importance in this play. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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