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GCSE: A Streetcar Named Desire
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The staging of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'
- 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 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 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 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 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 Consider the ways in which Williams criticises the ‘new’ family of Stanley, Stella and their baby.
- 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 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 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 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 Blanche’s ‘dream’ is a lie which leads to madness. Can this be related to the failure of the 'American Dream'?
- 2 Madness is presented as both escape and refuge, hinted at by Blanche’s need for but dishonesty about alcohol.
- 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 The relationship between the 'American Dream' and madness in the play and more widely in the context of the USA.
In addition this supports Stanley behaviour as primitive and "ape-like" Blanche often speaks of Stanley as "like an animal" and "sub human". The humorous metaphor, "Stanley Kowalski- survivor of the stone age!" represents Stanley as a very unrefined manhood, a romantic idea of man untouched by civilization and its effeminizing influences, Instantaneously, a reference of light is made; "the bedroom" is seen to be "relatively dim" suggesting that the masculine figure is far more dominant in the world as well as women represented as hiding behind the shadows.
- Word count: 963
A year later he published 'The Vengeance Of Nitocris' in Weird Tales. By 1935 Williams wrote his first publicly performed play Cairo, Shanghai, Bombay! Williams was close to his sister Rose who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, her parents eventually allowed a prefrontal lobotomy in an effort to treat her. Unfortunately the operation went badly and Rose remained incapacitated for the rest of her life. This may have been a factor that led him to alcoholism, this links to Blanche who is also an alcoholic, and is believed to be based on Rose.
- Word count: 1375
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
In addition end his loneliness and isolation that he has suffered. He appears to be a kind and decent human being. He is also very sensitive than Stanley's other poker friends; Stanley has s****l desires and the use of his power and dominance towards his friends and family. His main amusements are gambling, bowling, s*x, and drinking, and he lacks morals and imagination. His disturbing, degenerate nature, first hinted at when he beats his wife, is fully clear after he rapes his sister-in-law.
- Word count: 875
In the play Blanche and Stanley appear very different in appearance and the way they talk. Stanley gets home from the butchers and says to Stella "meat" and proceeds to throw it at her showing his caveman attitude towards her and life. After catching the meat she looks up to see he has already started round the corner not caring at all about her. Blanch however is dressed in a white suit with a fluffy bodice and a necklace as if she is going to a tea party. In reality she is in down town New Orleans where class does not mean anything (she represents the old Order of status and class), what you work for is what you get (Stanley represents the New Order of fighting for survival with no class).
- Word count: 757
Compare the way in which Blanche and Stella are portrayed in scenes one-four of Streetcar Named Desire
Stella in contrast to this hardy ever even raises her voice throughout the whole play, even during scene four when Blanche describes Stanley as a common, apelike, primitive brute Stella's tone remains calm and deliberate. Blanches declining mental state is further shown by her obvious dependence on alcohol, in the opening scene when she first enters Stella's apartment she gulps down half a tumbler of whisky and then precedes to wash out the tumbler, this indicates that she is in denial about her drinking and that she wishes for it to remain hidden form other people.
- Word count: 750
"Remember what Huey Long said - "Every Man is a King!" - Explain how Stanley had his control, how he has had his kingship challenged and how he is trying to re-establish his control.
This gives the audience the impression that Stella is almost a stay at home wife to Stanley. When Blanche and Stanley first meet, it is easy to see that Stanley feels as if he has control. He "starts to remove his shirt" in front of Blanche when he has first met her, indicating his confidence and his high status attitude. A small indication that Stanley's "kingship" is being challenged is show in the start of Scene 2. In Scene 2, Stella takes Blanche out to a show and supper, while Stanley has his poker night.
- Word count: 920
Stanley is a very bad luck kid. He was mistakenly convicted for stealing a pair of Clyde Livingston shoes. No one believes Stanley that those shoes were falling on top of him out of nowhere. As the result, the judge has given him two choices in which he's either going to jail, or will be sent to a boy's detention center, known as Camp Green Lake. Stanley, of course, decided his decision to Camp Green Lake, where he thought he would make some more new friends and get to do camping like other kids get to do. Stanley learns his vision at the lake was totally different when he finally arrived there.
- Word count: 1034
This is because Belle Reve was a very upper-class area where as New Orleans is more average, run down and has a mixed community. Blanche doesn't like New Orleans or where Stella is living. She is very snobbish and thinks it is a dump. "I thought you would never come back to this horrible place." this shows that Blanche does not approve of, or likes where Stella is living. Blanche is also implying that she is more superior by the way she is talking.
- Word count: 1541
Stanley is common and rough compared to Blanche who is delicate. Stanley is a very s****l man and s*x is part of what makes him tick. His appraisal of women is frank and straightforward. It becomes obvious that the s****l bond between Stanley and Stella is intense, and that this is what keeps their relationship going. Stella tells Stanley about the loss of 'Belle Reve' and Stanley thinks Blanche has profited from this and goes through her things. When Stanley routes through the letters her husband had written this makes Blanche angry and also brings back memories of her past.
- Word count: 1160
she became a sort of s**t hanging around a hotel waiting for men to pick her up, she stayed with these men for a while and they gave her a lot of expensive gifts and when she got bored she left them and moved on to the next. She also got fired from her school teaching job as an English teacher because of a fling with a student. After all this she moved in temporarily with Stella and Stanley, Stanley always accused blanche of trying to fraud him for all of his money and then she met Mitch a fairly
- Word count: 1282
A street car named desire - It has been said that Williams deliberately sets up a pattern of tensions and conflicts in the play, which culminate in the ending. Do you agree?
This is very quickly corrected, and they get back to normal swiftly as if nothing had ever happened. This is one of the main patterns that I see. A fight takes place due to wrong doings, or disagreements, or suspicions and then after a short, abrupt, violent argument, everything is made better bye discussing it, and apologise made. Unfortunately most of these apologise, although legitimate, don't seem to mean an awful lot, because they are forever being made, and still conflicts involving violence and offensive actions are still happening so often. If the apology was meant, and was from the heart, there wouldn't be as many conflicts because they would have learnt a lesson.
- Word count: 1158
Williams suggests this from an early stage within the play; on Blanche's arrival in New Orleans she is described as 'daintily dressed' and that 'her delicate beauty must avoid strong light', suggesting that she is fragile and easily broken, perhaps on the verge of falling apart. Her instability is suggested through her erratic actions and mood swings, in particular is her use of French when she speaks to Mitch. This could be Williams' way of telling us that she either feels or is misunderstood, and to show the difference between her flair and intellect compared with Mitch.
- Word count: 586
"Death is my best theme, don't you think?" (Williams). Explore the varied uses Tennesse Williams makes of death and dieing in "A Streetcar Names Desire"
"Blanche: You just came home in time for the funerals, Stella. And funerals are pretty compared to deaths. Funerals are quiet, but deaths-not always." Stella is being associated with the funerals and Blanche with the deaths. This is showing Stella being quiet and Blanche being louder and more highly strung as that is how she has described the difference in her speech. Although on the outside this speech made by Blanche may sound like she is just talking about the deaths of all her family members but it is also relating to the death of Belle Reve and how the two are connected - "Blanche: How in h**l do you think all that sickness and dying was paid for?
- Word count: 1157
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
How effectively does the writer/director use the first scene to introduce the main characters and ideas of the play ?
As soon as Blanche emerges from the streetcar i can immediately can see that she does not fit in because the way she looks is very clean, sleek and posh and compared to where she is in the hustling and bustling city of New Orleans which is full of filth, heavily polluted and a rough place to be. The fact that Blanche does not fit in straight away tells me about her personality and that she has an interesting past which is revealed later in the film.
- Word count: 1224
How does Tennessee Williams use of symbolism add to the dramatic impact at the beginning and the end of the play;
She is here to visit her sister Stella, who lives in one of the houses in that area. Blanches description is somewhat different from the rest of the other characters, which makes her stand out more, "There is something about her uncertain manner, as well as her white clothes which suggest a moth". Blanche is made to symbolise a moth throughout the play. This gives us a deeper insight as to Blanches characteristics; the moth goes towards its death, towards an open candle.
- Word count: 1652
New Orleans is the setting to the drama, but the spirit of life which is being referred to is the feeling or spirit between the main characters in the drama. The 'Blue piano' grows louder when the characters' spirits grow. When Stella finds out that Blanche has lost 'Belle Reve' the 'Blue piano' becomes louder. When Blanche finds out from Stanley that Stella is pregnant, the 'Blue piano' again grows louder. At the end of Scene 7, the 'Blue piano' "goes into a hectic breakdown" when Blanche is aware that Stanley and Stella are withholding information from her.
- Word count: 1805
Stanley and Blanche greet each other and they have an awkward conversation. Blanche seems to be unnerved by Stanley's questions but she manages to answer them. Stanley notices the fact that his liquor has gone down and Blanche states how she rarely touches it. Blanche ends the conversation by explaining how she once had a husband when she was very young, but the boy had died. Scene Two It is six o'clock the following evening and Blanche is bathing. Stella tells Stanley that she is taking Blanche out for the evening as Stanley is hosting a poker game.
- Word count: 3641
Her pearls symbolize the sadness she suffers from loss of love and failure. Despite all this, she maintains her "rich-girl'' posture to remain linked to her past in Belle Reve. The plantation in which she and Stella grew up in was lost as their fathers, uncles, and brothers spent all their money drinking, gambling and womanizing. She is haunted by the deaths of her ancestors, which she attributes to their "epic fornications." The sins of the fathers are visited upon their children is a good example of Blanches " hysterical outburst" in page 126, where she says, in an emotionally loaded phrase, "I fought and bled".
- Word count: 1833
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
Write about the parts played by women in at least two plays, saying how convincing you have found the playwrights' portrayals of them.
Stella and Linda are both symbols of the deferential wife and mother, not convincing portraits of women. Stella and Linda are both thought of only in relation to the other characters. They exist to support their husbands and defend them from other characters. Both Stella and Linda attempt to blind themselves to their husbands' flaws, and apologize to other characters for their husbands' actions. When Stanley gets drunk, smashes the radio and window, and hits Stella, Stella must apologize to Blanche for Stanley's behavior: "He's half-drunk!"; "He didn't know what he was doing... He was as good as a lamb when I came back and he's really very, very ashamed of himself."
- Word count: 1012
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
he shouted; saw her jump...'Waiting for Steven, hey?' he said, his fingers curling like claws into his palm." Within thirty lines Lessing had set the scene for the family tension and demonised the old man. As Flight progresses we find out that the old man only causes the conflict in an effort to retain his last granddaughter, which removes most of the negative feeling. The turning point, the point where the old man's conflict is lost, is central to the story; "On the wrist of the post master's son balanced a young pigeon, the light gleaming on its breast. 'For me?' said the old man, letting the drops shake of his chin.
- Word count: 570
Anger oh yes! And envy, yes! But not hate. I think hate is a thing, a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding said TennesseeWilliams of his work. Do you find any hate in the street car named desire?
Stanley's actions are largely motivated by his wish to protect his wife and unborn baby, surely a natural reaction for which he should not be judged so harshly. Stanley sees Blanche as a threat, an invasion of territory, something that needs to be dealt with. In my opinion Stanly has nothing personal against Blanche, however he knows her unpleasant past knowing the harsh truth he does not want any influence of her behavior Stanley is continuously described as b*****l by Blanche a fact that he never protests, why then is we shocked even horrified by the r**e of Blanche when Stanley is only in-keeping with a pattern of behavior over which it is obvious he has little or no control.
- Word count: 1194