Analyse how Tennessee Williams uses language and dramatic techniques to explore attitudes to identity in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'. Make close reference

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Analyse how Tennessee Williams uses language and dramatic techniques to explore attitudes to identity in ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. Make close reference to an extract in the play. Go on to show your understanding of the significance of attitudes to identity in the play as a whole.

Williams’ play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ has a full variety of attitudes to identity which are demonstrated through the various characters. Attitudes to identity are important in the play as it gives us a background to the character’s lives and who they think they are, also how others perceive them. Mitch’s character, for example, can be seen to represent various attitudes to identity; he could be seen as being unsure about who he is, he could be seen as having a masculine life with Stanley and his friends, but then he also has to tend to his mother where he is perhaps seen as not such a masculine man. He is also caught between Blanche, Stanley and his mother; as he can’t be the same to all three.

Attitudes to identity are shown clearly in scene eight; this is just after Blanche’s birthday when Stanley has told Mitch everything he knows about Blanche’s past. This is an important scene in presenting the character’s attitudes. We are given further insight into the relationship that Stanley and Stella share and also that of Stella and Blanche; showing us how Stella is sometimes torn between her husband and her sister. Here, Stanley and Stella have a disagreement which shows us how the other characters perceive Stanley and how he sees himself. We also see a lot about Blanche’s character and her doubts about her own identity.

Ideas around the identity of Stanley’s character are explored in scene eight. The lexis used in this scene explores how he sees himself and how he is seen by the other characters. The vocative used by Blanche and Stella to address Stanley conveys their, especially Blanche’s feelings towards him, ‘Mr. Kowalski’ they say. This vocative seems quite formal spoken in such an informal setting as their house, and quite out of place, this could show that the women maybe see Stanley as superior, in the way that he is a man and they feel that they should look up to him. As well as presenting attitudes to identity, this could also show attitudes to gender and the differences between the roles of males and females. In this scene, some of Stanley’s utterances contain many exclamatories and interrogatives which seem to make firm statements of what he is saying. For example he says ‘that’s how I’ll clear the table! Don’t ever talk that way to me!’, it seems as though he is shouting these words and this could show his dominating and intimidating character perhaps. Phonology used in Stanley’s utterances could also show his dominating male authority that he feels he has over others, he seems to shout at Blanche; ‘QUIET IN THERE!’, this is intonation of his voice is shown by the use of capital letters.

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Stella uses a metaphor to describe Stanley’s undesirable behaviour and says that he is ‘too busy making a pig of himself’; this could show that he is not a very civilised man. This could also be shown through the strong dynamic verbs in the stage directions, Stanley is described as he ‘hurls’ and ‘grunts’, these could suggest that Stanley is seen as being rather primitive with not much manners. Stanley also reaches to ‘spear his fork’ into the food which he then ‘eats with his fingers’, the choice of lexis used here also suggests a rather primitive identity to ...

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