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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.

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  1. 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
  2. '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
  3. A streetcar named desire - Blanche and Stanley.

    She seems to me as the person with inability to face reality. She can't accept the fact that she's thirty; she still seeks put compliments on her appearance from her sister and other people in order to fulfill herself and her self-esteem. To me she also seemed to be a flirting type of person. In this play it's clearly shown that she's trying to attract Mitch and also when she asked Stanley to button her dress. She attempts to make herself appear attractive to new male suitors.

    • Word count: 800
  4. How Much Sympathy Does the Audience Feel for Blanche at the End of the Play?

    Williams makes constant reference to 'light' throughout the first five scenes, for example, in scene three she lies about her age when speaking to Mitch and asks him to cover up a light which metaphorically refers to her age. This emphasises Blanches fear of growing old. She is fully aware of her age and death comes to us all. It is something we will all experience in our lives and this builds up sympathy for Blanche as many of the audience can relate to her fears.

    • Word count: 1820
  5. Explore the ways in which dramatic ways in which Williams presents the character of Blanche Dubois in a streetcar named desire.

    and a n***o woman. It is accentuated by the fact that the women are talking comfortably to each other, no sense of tension can be found during their speech. Soon enough, Blanche arrives, and the stage directions and her facial expressions give us an immediate idea of what kind of person she is. "Her appearance is incongruous to this setting" She looks incredibly out of place in this rough surrounding, in her dainty white dress. As the stage directions put it: "There is something about her uncertain manner, as well as her white clothes that suggests a moth" A moth is delicate and fragile, which is what Tennesse Williams is trying to get at when comparing her to a moth.

    • Word count: 763
  6. How concerned are each of the following characters (Blanche, Stella, Stanley and Mitch) with their own survival? Discuss their needs and how they go about fulfilling them, and calculate their success in terms of surviving the events of the play.

    Stella's desire in this play is a bit like Stanley's she needs to keep her husband in order to survive in this play and she also needs s****l passion from him in order to let their relationship to be a strong bond. I have summarised the characters and their needs in this play, at the end of this play I am going to conclude on who I think did not survive and achieve their needs and which characters did survive an fulfil their needs.

    • Word count: 1872
  7. Principales Temas.

    As�, la realidad objetiva no es un ant�doto al mundo de fantas�a de Blanche; m�s bien Blanche adapta el mundo exterior para encajar sus ilusiones. Blanche explica a Mitch que ella miente porque rechaza aceptar el destino que le ha sido dado. Ella cuenta las cosas no como son, sino como deber�an ser. Para ella la fantas�a tiene algo m�gico que la protege de las tragedias que tiene que soportar. Desafortunadamente esta defensa es fr�gil y se romper� con Stanley.

    • Word count: 1906
  8. In Spanish - Personajes - A street car named desire -

    Mitch, como Stanley, tiene alrededor de treinta a�os. Aunque �l sea torpe, sudoroso, y tenga intereses no refinados, Mitch es m�s sensible y m�s caballeroso que Stanley y sus otros amigos, quiz�s porque �l vive con su madre, que se esta muriendo. Mitch no encaja en el h�roe caballeresco, en los sue�os del hombre ideal de Blanche que vendr� para rescatarla. Sin embargo, cuando el doctor se lleva Blanche contra su voluntad, Mitch es la �nica persona adem�s de Stella que se desesperan por la tragedia.

    • Word count: 1139
  9. 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
  10. A streetcar named desire - Williams introduces us to Blanche in scene 1 - How is she characterized, and how do the other characters relate to her.

    This also shows insecurity and she seems restless and unable to settle. Although not mentioned greatly there is a clear reference to a possible dependence on alcohol, " she pours a half tumble of whisky and tosses it down." This also shows how distressed she must have been in the past. When Blanche is talking to Stella she says a comment that enhances the metaphor of the moth. " I wont be looked at in this merciless glare!". There is obviously a reason for her behaviour here, but at this point the audience are left to guess what it is.

    • Word count: 944
  11. A streetcar named desire - Tennessee Williams uses a variety of imagery and symbolism's in the play - How do these aspects contribute to the atmosphere of the play?

    As the lights fade away, with a lingering brightness on their embrace, the music of the blue piano and trumpet and drums is heard." This particular example is important as if is showing important aspects of Stanley character. . The piano also warns the audience of the approaching character as it is played just before Stanley appears and therefore tension and suspense is generated for the audience the dynamics of the piano also helps to stress the importance of the scene.

    • Word count: 923
  12. A Streetcar named desire - Williams uses symbolism effectively not only to convey the fragility in Blanche’s character but also the imposing force that finally destroys her - Discuss and refer to critics in your response.

    Blues exemplifies Blanche's connection with the rough and unmelodic music of New Orleans, but also shows that her true background is in contrast, melodic and harmonious. It "evokes the time and place and echoes Blanche's state of mind." ( The music could be described as a metaphor for her desperation to find love and her desire to be heard. The " Varsouviana" polka represents Blanche's loss of innocence, and how the suicide of her young husband, Allan Gray, triggered her mental decline.

    • Word count: 1545
  13. Explain how Williams creates our awareness of Blanche's increasing anxiety in scene 5.

    (For example, shrilly, sharply, breathlessly, nervously.) The audience is aware that Blanche is on edge throughout the scene, this is emphasised by her visible wincing at each noise that Stanley creates. He jerks open the bureau drawer, slams it shut, and throws shoes in a corner. At each noise BLANCHE winces slightly. Not only does this emphasis the anxiety Blanche is feeling but it also illustrates further to the audience how the tension between Blanche and Stanley is building. Stanley pushes her further when he begins to question her about a man named "Shaw".

    • Word count: 826
  14. A streetcar named desire - Summery 1st scene.

    Stella and Blanche are sisters. Stanley is a bit of a macho. Mitch is an urban labourer. Stanley calls for Stella and she appears. He tosses some meat at her, announcing, that he is going bowling. She wants to watch. After she left, Blanche Dubois arrives on the black. She looks at the address, being shocked of the surroundings. She cannot believe in what conditions her sister lives. Eunice, the landlady, helps her into the Kowalski apartment. Eunice mentions, that she saw pictures of their home, Belle Reve. She is wondering whether such a place is hard to keep.

    • Word count: 533
  15. 'Holes' by Louis Sacher. A Character Study.

    I think Stanley used to get bullied on at school because he was seen as a natural victim, people could see that he was soft so he was bullied. Stanley's happiest thoughts are about about his life at home and also about his mother and father, he never has had much money in his life, he has never been to camp before, he used to pretend he was at camp with stuffed animals and things like that,

    • Word count: 545
  16. Compare and Contrast of Vladimir, Bernada, and Gayev seen through the Shattering of Illusion.

    as if their whole purpose in life is to wait and expect something to occur and change things, Godot. This is their illusion. The pointless conversation that they share amongst each other through out the story is a mechanism of illusion they use to distract themselves from the current reality of their situation. However, like all illusions, this one starts to disappear in the mind of Vladimir. "I waited for Godot?... But in all that what truth will there be?...

    • Word count: 1636
  17. How does Williams introduce the character of Blanche in scene one of A Streetcar Named Desire? What dramatic techniques are used and what are the effects created?

    A very important stage setting is the sound of a 'tinny piano being played by the infatuated fluency of brown fingers. The music referred to is jazz music, known for its unpredictability and upbeat nature; this gives the mood a feeling of informality, a cheery community, despite the backdrop of a dilapidated city. Blanche is introduced to the reader after Stanley, and his wife, Blanche's sister have left for the bowling alley: Blanche comes around the corner. Her expression is one of shocked disbelief.

    • Word count: 838
  18. How and why does Williams dramatise the influence of the past on the present?

    This is used in the scene where Blanche is raped by Stanley, her sister's husband, and is used along with the Varsouviana, which is "filtered into weird distortion". The "Hot Trumpet" music is also naturalistic, but only coming into focus in this scene, otherwise is played only in the background. This can be compared to the Varsouviana, as both are played at certain times in the play, or during certain events, to heighten the action portrayed in the play. The Varsouviana is linked to memory, and is used, for example, when Blanche remembers her old marriage, or when her husband shot himself.

    • Word count: 1633
  19. "A streetcar named Desire" written by Tennessee Williams.

    She comes intending to stay with Stella without giving Stella notice of her arrival. She comes dressed extravagantly and wearing attractive jewellery. Stella, having not seen Blanche for a while and without the faintest idea of her arrival, is surprised to see her older sister Blanche after several years. Straightaway Blanche tells Stella about her poor lifestyle and how things have completely changed since Stella left. In Scene 2, Stella's husband Stanley starts to not like Blanche in this scene, as he demands for some proof of the loss of the old mansion in Belle Reve.

    • Word count: 555
  20. In this essay I will write about how true it is that Blanche DuBois (a character in 'A Streetcar Named Desire') is described.

    Blanche is addicted to alcohol but she tries to hide the fact that she is. Stanley:" Have a shot? " Blanche:" No, I-rarely touch it " Stanley:" Some people rarely touch it, but it touches them often ". Before this conversation Blanche poured herself a drink with out asking anyone, she tried to deny the truth by saying that she hardly ever drinks.

    • Word count: 326
  21. Plot Summary - ' A Streetcar named Desire'.

    This is partially due to her attitude towards Stanley however, as she has her own views about social class. Blanche makes herself clear that she does not believe her sister should be with this man but Stella's ideas seems completely contradictory. Stanley has his speculations about Blanche's story about Belle Reve and demands to see some papers to back up her claims. Stanley's refers to the Napoleonic code, the belief that what belongs to the wife also belongs to the husband, and therefore the loss of Belle Reve also affects him. Blanche reveals that Belle Reve was lost due to a foreclosed mortgage; showing just how dire Blanche's financial situation is.

    • Word count: 1596
  22. The short story "Tent Worms" by Tennessee Williams is a portrayal of a depressed wife who is battling her emotional instincts.

    As Clara sits and listens to her husband complain about the tent worms she becomes more and more agitated. Her emotions are not in regard to the tent worms directly, but are the product of a deeper problem. Billy Foxworthy is dying and his wife is caught between grieving for the future death of her husband and enjoying the knowledge that her rotted marriage will soon be over. The limited third-person point-of-view shows the feelings of Clara vividly, in the first paragraph she states on his addiction to the tent worm problem, "If he but knew!

    • Word count: 656
  23. Was Stanley responsible for the downfall of blanche? - A Street car named desire.

    'I was so exhausted by all I'd been through my- nerves broke. Throughout this scene Williams show her 'nervously tamping cigarette' and 'drinking quickly' as a symbol for her nervousness. Stanley cannot be solely responsible for Blanche's downfall when she arrived in New Orleans as a nervous wreck. Blanche has arrived to spend the summer with her newly married sister Stella. Dispirited and penniless, she initially maintains a cover-up of a gentility lady, but this soon crumbles to reveal a desperately lonely, unstable woman yearning for a safe harbour thought out the book.

    • Word count: 1509
  24. Explain what you have learned about Blanches' character and her past - A street car named desire.

    Blanche admits that she wasn't so good the last two years or so, after Belle Reve had started to slip through her fingers. When Stella asks if Blanche is really interested in Mitch, Blanche replies, "I want to rest! I want to breathe quietly again! Yes--I want Mitch . . . very badly! Just think! If it happens! I can leave here and not be anyone's problem..." It is evident that Blanche has had a colourful and rather traumatic past many terrible things have happened to her since Stella left and they have affected her nerves and mental ability, for

    • Word count: 649
  25. Examples of compelling and powerful moments in 'A Street Car Named Desire'.

    Stanley Kowalski's first exhibition of his brutal actions occurs at poker night. Blanche turns on the radio, but Stanley demands her to turn it off. Blanche refuses and so Stanley gets up himself and turns it off him self. When Stanley's friend, Mitch, drops out of the game to talk to Blanche, Stanley gets upset and he even gets more upset when Blanche flicks on the radio. Due to the music being on, Stanley, in a rage, 'stalks' in to the room and 'grabs the instrument' and throws it out of the window.

    • Word count: 907

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