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GCSE: A Streetcar Named Desire

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The staging of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

  1. 1 It is a good idea to to include details of staging and stage direction when answering questions on any play. This reinforces the fact that you know the play is being performed to an audience and the visuals/sounds/rhythm and pace will all contribute to the meanings.
  2. 2 Williams intended the stage set for the play to be expressionistic. This means that boundaries can dissolve and reform, whilst lighting and darkness all serve to accentuate characters’ feelings and relationships.
  3. 3 Some critics think that the boundary between home and street is deliberately made uncertain by Williams. Stanley and Stella’s residence is merged with their street community unlike Belle Reve, isolated and protected in the deep south.
  4. 4 Some others believe that sound (jungle cries, Varsouvian Polka etc) is used to represent the inner state of Blanche Dubois and invite our sympathies as her madness grows.
  5. 5 Some critics see Williams’ references to light in the play as symbolising ‘truth’ or ‘reality’. Blanche avoids the light not only to preserve her lost youth but also to avoid confronting the reality of her past.

'A streetcar named desire' could be said to use many of the conventions of a modern domestic tragedy

  1. 1 Consider the ways in which Williams criticises the ‘new’ family of Stanley, Stella and their baby.
  2. 2 Williams also shows the ways in which the ‘old’ family of Blanche and Stella at ‘Belle Reve’ was based on corrupt morals and can no longer exist in modern times.
  3. 3 Modern tragedy also looks at the importance of the past, which can haunt the present. This can be seen in Blanche’s past, Belle Reve, etc.
  4. 4 Modern tragedy looks at the growing importance of female characters. How far does Williams portray the fates of both sisters being in the hands of men? Do our sympathies lie with the female or male characters?
  5. 5 Like many other 20th century American playwrights (notable Miller and later, Albee) Williams uses the play in order to consider the confrontation between two worlds: the fading relic of the Old South and the rising urban working class.

Consider the theme of madness in the play

  1. 1 Blanche’s ‘dream’ is a lie which leads to madness. Can this be related to the failure of the 'American Dream'?
  2. 2 Madness is presented as both escape and refuge, hinted at by Blanche’s need for but dishonesty about alcohol.
  3. 3 Other 20th century tragedies, such as Death of a Salesman and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? have also commented on the clinging onto and worshipping of the past as a sort of madness madness and death.
  4. 4 The relationship between the 'American Dream' and madness in the play and more widely in the context of the USA.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 3
  • Peer Reviewed essays 14
  1. How successfully has Williams introduced the main characters and ideas of A Streetcar named Desire in the first two scenes?

    His character is also constructed through the language he uses in the first scene; in a conversation with Stella he answers "Catch!" "Meat!" "Bowling!" "Come on" all very short to the point plain answers showing again he is working class with primitive speech. Throughout the play Williams builds on his character and we see a more violent and equally passionate side of Stanley as he becomes more and more angry towards Blanche finally r****g her and then with Stella, as we see the violence he shows towards her suddenly change into a raw, animal like passion.

    • Word count: 2334
  2. The Analysis of Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

    This kind of appearance hides the best her past sins and her ambiguous, immoral character. The scene describes the surroundings with a tone of commonplace brutality and cold reality, into which Blanche appears as a sensitive lady- like figure. Her outlook can be associated with light in this sense, but as we learn later on she is definitely not attracted by light. Another key fact in this scene is the road she took to arrive here, in the French quarter. She says that she took a " streetcar named Desire, and then ... one called Cemeteries".

    • Word count: 2171
  3. In the following text, I would like to discuss the presentation of the character Blanche DuBois, in act one by Tennessee Williams.

    She looks at a slip of paper, then at the building, then again at the slip and again at the building. Her expression is one of shocked disbelief. Her appearance is incongruous to this setting. She is daintily dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice, necklace and ear-rings of pearl, white gloves and hat, looking as she were arriving at a summer tea or cocktail party in the garden district. She is about five years older than Stella.

    • Word count: 2041
  4. How does Tennessee Williams dramatise the tension between reality and fantasy in 'A Streetcar Named Desire'?

    "You just come home for the funerals, Stella. And funerals are pretty compared to deaths...Death is expensive...Yes accuse me! Sit there and stare at me, thinking I let the place go! I let the place go? Where were you." (p.12) Blanche deludes herself into thinking that Shep Huntleigh, a man who she was involved with in her youth, is interested in meeting up with her again. "do you remember Shep Huntleigh? Of course you remember Shep Huntleigh. I went out with him at college and wore his pin for a while.

    • Word count: 2081
  5. The character of Blanche in

    She seems to be having trouble speaking normally to a black person so that we can already place the origin of her upbringing in the South, probably in one of those enormous mansions that housed rich slave owning white families. As the scene unfolds, the image of the rich, somewhat sheltered southern woman is strengthened; we immediately understand something has gone terribly wrong and already sympathize with her. We see how surprised she is that her sister lives in such place:" They mustn't have - understood - what number I wanted..."

    • Word count: 2662
  6. Plot of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'.

    (page 21) > Stanley approaches Blanche bluntly about Belle Reve. They argue and Stella comes in to stop the quarrel. Blanche dismisses her, and asks her to go to the store to get a coke. > Blanche finds all of the paperwork regarding Belle Reve and throws it at him. He spots some other papers. She tells him, "These are love-letters, yellowing with antiquity, all from one boy.... Poems a dead boy wrote. I hurt him the way that you would like to hurt me, but you can't! I'm not young and vulnerable any more.

    • Word count: 2752
  7. 'A Streetcar Named Desire' - How concerned are each of the four characters with their own survival? Discuss their needs and how they go about fulfilling them, and evaluate their success in terms of surviving events of the play.

    She seems to believe that by continually asserting her sexuality, especially toward men younger than herself, she will be able to avoid death and return to the world of teenage bliss she experienced before her husband's suicide. However, we all know this to be impossible but shows the mental instability of Blanche in her lasting grasping moments for survival. Throughout the play, Blanche is haunted by the deaths of her ancestors, which she attributes to their "epic fornication's." Her husband's suicide results from her disapproval of his homosexuality.

    • Word count: 2197
  8. What impact does coming to Eyam and the events of the play that follow, have on Mompesson?

    The first person he meets with is Saville, who brought him to the village in the first place. I noticed that the conversation between the two of them is more of Saville speaking, and Mompesson replying with one or two word answers. "Well, Mompesson? What does it feel like?" "What?" "Responsibility." "Gratifying." "I suppose I should have guessed you'd say that." Mompessons' replies shows he is not very impressed with his new job, and later expresses his want to work in London. Saville tells Mompesson that he shouldn't judge the villagers before he knows them. He tells him that Mompesson is looking down on the villagers as if he is better than them.

    • Word count: 2021
  9. Discuss and analyse the way Tennessee Williams presents Blanche and Stanley in A street car named desire with close reference to scene 10.

    Blanche is sent away to a mental hospital after Stanley assaults her. There we imagine that she will get some of the help she obviously needs. But that help can't make up for the attack that no one believes happened. Stanley Due to the time the play was written the characters are extremely physical. The most physical of all characters in the play was Stanley Kowalski. Stanley is considered to be a brutal, dominant man with animal-like behaviour as he was described as ?He acts like an animal, has an animal?s habits ,Eats like one, moves like one, talks like one!?? .

    • Word count: 2264

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • To what extent does Williams portray Blanche as a tragic heroine in Scene 1?

    "In conclusion, it is clear that Williams is not presenting Blanche as a tragic hero in scene one. He makes sure that any qualities the audience may be fond of, such as her fancy clothes or well-off upbringing, are quickly dismissed as he focuses on her alcoholism, naivety and struggles to form structured sentences. These problems that Blanche has are far from heroic qualities. Although there is a sense of a tragic flaw starting to develop, it is hard to determine in scene one whether these problems will have any affect on her later actions. Sam Franklin Mr Skinner"

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