Tennessee Williams wrote in a letter that It (Streetcar) is a tragedy with the classic aim of producing a catharsis of pity and terror and in order to do that, Blanche must finally have the understanding and compass

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Tennessee Williams wrote in a letter that “It (‘Streetcar’) is a tragedy with the classic aim of producing a catharsis of pity and terror and in order to do that, Blanche must finally have the understanding and compassion of the audience. This without creating a black-dyed villain in Stanley. It is a thing (misunderstanding) not a person (Stanley) that destroys her in the end.” In your opinion, to what extent has Williams succeeded in his aims.

Although there are many different viewpoints on a conventional tragic heroine, Aristotle made his views clear that a hero must fall from fortune and power, due to a tragic flaw, allowing an audience to feel catharsis at the end of the play. It can be argued that Stanley causes Blanche’s downfall, however, it is clear that Blanche had brought this upon herself by creating a conflict between them and ensures her own downfall by other means such as her promiscuity and flux into fantasies.

Williams makes it clear that a misunderstanding destroys Blanche in the end. This misjudgement can be seen in her aggressive teasing of Stanley and her uncomfortable belonging in multi-cultural New Orleans. From the beginning of the play, Williams makes it clear that ‘the Kowalski and the DuBois have different notions’ with Blanche withholding the Southern Belle attitude of ‘Belle Reve’. However, it is clear that Blanche cannot cope with the stark contrast in backgrounds, aggressively teasing Stanley and calling him a ‘dirty Polack’ describing something ‘ape-like about him’.  Williams has Blanche use animalistic imagery on stage to enhance the audience’s negative perception of her use of derogative terms as her weapon against Stanley. The audience can thus sympathise for Stanley, who has not done anything to offend Blanche as he attempts to build a rapport saying ‘Well, take it easy’ after her travels to New Orleans; Williams does this to allow the audience to question Blanche’s misjudgement of ‘deliberate cruelty’ towards him. As the audience are first introduced to Blanche on stage, we immediately recognise her as an outcast to New Orleans society as she wanders in ‘shocked disbelief’ towards Stella’s new home. The visual image Williams creates of her ‘carrying a valise’ whilst wearing a ‘fluffy bodice’ is a stark contrast to the urban surroundings and the ‘easy intermingling of races’. Williams does this to encourage the audience to question her choice to seek help in New Orleans. It may be argued that Blanche would have fallen from grace if she hadn’t visited Elysian Fields, yet it seems clear that her blatant misjudgement of New Orleans society and those within it has caused her downfall – this is evident as she cries ‘this place is a trap’ proving to the audience her realisation that Elysian Fields is the cause of her downfall. Therefore Williams makes it clear that a misunderstanding has caused Blanche’s tragic demise, with the initial decision of going to Elysian Fields proving the first of her many tragic mistakes.

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Williams succeeds in not creating Stanley as a black-dyed villain by focusing on his honesty to his moral values and his sexual categorisation of women, only defending his territory and Stella from Blanche’s intrusion. From the beginning of the play, Williams makes it clear that Stanley is an animalistic man, holding ‘a red-stained package’ which ‘he heaves’ at Stella. This is epitomised when Williams notes in stage directions that ‘he sizes women up at a glance, with sexual classifications’ and explains that ‘the centre of his life has been pleasure with women’ showing the audience his sexual personality. Williams ...

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A very effective essay which addresses the question in detail and shows a balanced appraisal of the key characters. *****

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The structure here is very strong. The introduction is cogent, and there is a clear conclusion. Each paragraph has a clear signpost which relates back to the question, allowing for a set of focused points which do not overlap or repeat anything. Technical and literary terms are used fluently in the analysis, and spelling, punctuation and grammar are flawless. The style is sophisticated, and shows a strong ability to craft an argument. This essay is superb!

The analysis here is superb. Language is always analysed closely, looking at meanings beyond feature spotting. It is key at A-Level to look at the significance of meanings, rather than simply pointing out techniques. This essay does this well, for example "Williams uses this motif to symbolise her escape from reality" shows an understanding of the technique, and then explains its significance to the play. I liked how there is a focus on Blanche's appearance on stage, as many people simply ignore stage directions and appearance. This comes under context of reception, and such analysis will gain credit. I particularly liked the style here, with a constant reference to Williams' aims. Phrases such as "Williams uses" or "Williams makes" shows a clear understanding of the importance of his constructs, and doesn't talk about the characters as if they make their own decisions! Such style allows for a convincing argument, as there is a clear focus on the audience response beyond the analysis. Technical terms regarding tragedy are used fluently such as "catharsis of terror", and this paragraph in particular is very sophisticated. The progression of tragedy is tracked, and the audience's response to Blanche's tragic fall. Being able to show a clear awareness of the play's purpose beyond specific extracts will gain credit.

This essay engages superbly with the task. Although the question seems quite cryptic, this essay is able to pose a strong argument saying that Blanche's tragedy is caused by her misunderstanding and not Stanley. A clear definition of tragedy is used in the introduction, allowing for an argument which is focused on these qualities. I liked how there is a sustained focus on audience response, as is vital when writing about a play as it shows an understanding of the context of reception. The conclusion is slightly weak, in contrast to the rest of the essay, as it simply summarises the points made rather than making a perceptive insight.