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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. Which characters do you think Tennessee Williams feels closest to in his play? Do his feelings coincide with yours?

    creating Stella as he and his sister Rose often encouraged his mother to leave their abusive father but she was adamant to stay. It could be also said that the relationship between Stella and her sister Blanche is like the one Williams had with his sister Rose. Blanche is obviously mentally unbalanced and requires constant care and attention from Stella, however she is mortified when Blanche is committed to the asylum asking Eunice, 'What have I done to my sister?'

    • Word count: 819
  2. The relationships between men and women in 'A Street Car Named Desire'.

    His animal instincts surface in the way he 'sizes women up' and treat them as 'meat' or s****l toys. s*x is Stanley's strength and his weapon to conquer his conflicts with his wife Stella and eventually his battle with her sister Blanche. Stanley feels that a man should be 'King' of the relationship with his 'little woman' to attend to his every whim. This is portrayed in Scene 3 at the poker night when he refers to the women as 'hens' and also when he belittles Stella in front of his poker buddies by giving her a hard slap on the thigh.

    • Word count: 1264
  3. Examine the ways in which Tennessee Williams creates tension in the first few scenes of 'A Streetcar Named Desire'

    Blanche springs up' This is the most classic and prominent example of this technique. Williams also uses music, on numerous occasions, to create tension. Throughout the play music accompanies the characters and the situations they endure. 'Blanche waltzes to the music with romantic gestures.' Jazz music is heard at the most crucial moments in the play and it often comes hand-in-hand with tension. 'Blanche's desperate laughter [is] ringing out once more...then the "blue piano" and the hot trumpet sound louder.' Another way Williams creates tension is through his detailed, descriptive and revealing stage directions.

    • Word count: 1164
  4. How is tension conveyed between Stella and Blanche in Scene 1 of A street car named desire.

    When Stella arrives we are told Blanche starts to speak with 'feverish vivacity as if she feared for either of them to stop and think.' She then starts t speak at Stella, to which Stella can only have time to reply with a laugh. She tells Stella not to look at her, and does not give her the opportunity to speak, and even when Blanche tells Stella to speak, she still keeps talking. Blanche pretends to look for some liquor, knowing where it is already.

    • Word count: 833
  5. Symbolism in A Streetcar Named Desire

    The image Blanche creates of Stanley (him being an animal - an ape) is coincidental to the fact that she is actually describing her brother-in-law, throwing red meat to his wife in an unacceptable fashion. We know that Blanche had not been present, at the time of the event. This clearly proves that Stanley's bad actions are so obvious, even other characters in the play can predict his actions. It is just like saying a tiger arrives at his habitat with 'red meat' and feeds his cubs, similar to what any other animal would do.

    • Word count: 3922
  6. A Streetcar Named 'Desire'

    town in the state of New Orleans, U.S.A. Coming to think of it, it reminds me that the fake American accent was exaggerated and easy to recognise - it was imitated very poorly! The first scene began with a famous Hollywood actress - Glenn Close - who plays the leading role of "Blanche Du Bois". She was a young woman who had run-away from her home, "Belle Reve" in Laurel (Mississippi), because her past had degraded her badly in the local community. Blanche decides to visit her younger sister, "Stella Kowalski", (Essie Davis)

    • Word count: 1382
  7. The birthday party

    It is the bit where Goldberg and McCann are scaring him with psychological warfare. The rest of the play really gives reader/ watcher the full background of the play. There is a lot of tension built up as the story progresses. In the scene that we going to perform is a climax until Stanley has a mental breakdown. This is made very humorous as Stanley is not expecting this and starts to feel very uncomforted as the speech is confusing him mentally. 3: the character I began to like McCann because he wasn't really that strong at getting his point across but he was used by Goldberg to put pressure on his victim.

    • Word count: 1050
  8. Holes - How did Stanley's character change and develop as the story progresses?

    He instead finds it more comfortable to blame it all on his no-good-dirty-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather. Stanley also seems to be a person who isn't able to accept reality. He judges the stealing of shoes as an accident and decides that it is because he is in the wrong place at the wrong time. This makes us conclude that at the start of the story, Stanley seems to be a person who is innocent but at the same time a person who heavily relies on excuses.

    • Word count: 1100
  9. A Streetcar Named Desire Analysis of scenes 4, 8, 11:

    Kazan fuels further evidence to this argument by having Stella staged in between Stanley and Blanche at the end of Scene four. Intentionally, the camera dwells on Stella's expression as she shuns Blanche's grasping plea, and lovingly embraces her 'gaudy seed-bearer' Stanley. Nonetheless, Stella affection for Stanley is only momentarily. Her sympathy and thus her love is passed onto Blanche, 'You shouldn't have done that, not on her birthday'. However Blanche 'delicate' sympathy votes doesn't rival the 'brute force' of Stanley's animal magnetism, 'Stell, it's gonna be all right after she goes...it's gonna be sweet when we can make noise in the night the way that we used to'.

    • Word count: 914
  10. The story of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' focuses around the life of a woman used to having lots of money, maids and slaves.

    She lives in a small apartment block called Elysian Fields. She is pregnant when Blanche moves in. Stanley is Stella's husband. His family are polish but he says he is 100% American. He is quite rough and violent but he loves his wife. He also loves bowling and gambling but he dislikes Blanche simply because she owns more expensive property than Stella does. Stanley sizes up a woman's personality just by looking at her. His first impressions of Blanche are not too bad but as the play progresses and he learns more about her past his impressions get worse.

    • Word count: 1052
  11. A Streetcar Named Desire - With which of the characters do you have the most sympathy with? Illustrate with specific reference to the text.

    I mean-Mrs. Stanley Kowalski.' This shows that Blanche doesn't accept that Stella is now married. Stanley is the type of man that Blanche likes. She thinks that he is a real man, something that her former partner wasn't, she likes strong men. Her ex-boyfriend was h********l and she might think that it was her fault, because she wasn't good enough. She flirts with Stanley more than he flirts with her. One example is when she asks him how she looks, 'Oh, in my youth I excited some admiration. But look at me now! (She smiles at him radiantly.)

    • Word count: 1021
  12. Examine the Plays Success As a Piece of Drama - streetcar named desire , Tennessee Williams

    Audiences were said to have come away "moved yet elated after having been sitting in the presence of truth." So it must have had some sort of effect. The techniques used must have done something to win over the hearts of both audiences and critics alike. Tennessee Williams was not only an amazing playwright but also theatrically brilliant. His use of theatrical symbols, stage directions and attention to close details makes an evident difference in the quality of his plays and their successes as dramatic pieces. One thing Tennessee employs often in this play is music. Some of this music has a symbolic use such as the polka tune 'Varsouviana" which plays as we enter the thoughts and the past of the main character Blanche DuBois.

    • Word count: 610
  13. Analyse the relationship between Blanche and Stanley in Scene 2-A Streetcar Named Desire.

    She is relying on her sister and her husband to support her. On her arrival she insulted Stella's husband and Stella herself but still expects them to look after her as if it were their duty. Blanche takes them both for granted and in scene one says "I'm not going to be put up at a hotel. I want to be near you". As soon as Blanche sees Stanley she finds something strangely attractive, she doesn't know why or what it is, he is distant towards her, does not pay her compliments like she is used to and she finds this attractive, he is quite

    • Word count: 557
  14. In a Street Car Named Desire What do we learn about Stanley in the first two scenes

    At the beginning of the first scene the audience meets Stanley, Tennessee presents Stanly and a friend (Mitch) as 'They are about twenty-eight or thirty years old roughly dressed in blue denim work clothes'. This gives us an immediate impression of a classic American working class guy, that doesn't have an impressive education record. Tennessee shows another example that 'Stanley' is of a low status, when he addresses 'Stella' as 'Baby!'. This shows the audience that Stanley is not being rude, but it is just the way in which he has developed his vocabulary in a slang street manor.

    • Word count: 698
  15. A Streetcar Named Desire

    These sounds go very well with the story as it helps the story progress. The music and sound effects often describes the mood of the atmosphere in the story for example at the very start of the film when Blanche enters New Orleans the music is very jolly and happy where there is some music at the start called the "Blue Piano". Throughout the story when Blanche goes a bit mad the music becomes quite loud and thrilling, also the sound effects of Blanche screaming are good as they echo her every word.

    • Word count: 1086
  16. Can you feel compassion for The Woman In Black?

    It was not until the chapter ' a packet of letters ' when Mr Kipps realised that the woman in black was not all about evil, but about longing and revenge. In this chapter we learn of a lady named Jennet who inevitably had to give her child up for adoption. She could not afford to give him the upbringing he deserved and so had to give him to a wealthy woman who could look after him well. It was unfortunate that the woman happened to be Mrs Drablow, Jennet's sister.

    • Word count: 735
  17. Magnolia - sequence review

    Stanley carries four bags of books out of the house into the car; his dad isn't pushing him all the way. I think this symbolizes that his dad is pushing him to learn and this is what's driving him to take these four book bags with him. This is mirrored and is an example of how he is being pushed (exploited) on the game show. His eagerness is to please his father, who is clearly not in a relationship due to the mess in the house and is contrasted by the Frank T.J Maccie infomercial playing in the background.

    • Word count: 1468
  18. Consider how Tennessee Williams attempts to engage the sympathy of the audience by the end of scene five.

    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: 1888
  19. A Streetcar Named Desire

    They also create tension which makes you want to continue with the story. In the next stage direction you can clearly see that Blanche is nervous by saying, "tremblingly she lifts the hand mirror." It creates tension by implying that her movements may be slow. When it talks of Stanley appearing it says "he has had a few drinks on the way" this suggests that his actions towards her may be rough. It then moves on to saying he "has brought some quart beer bottles home with him."

    • Word count: 630
  20. Who do you believe is the most to blame for Blanche’s fate at the end of ‘ A Streetcar Named Desire’?

    " Her appearance is grand and starkly contrasted to the grubby settings. We also learn that Blanche is snobbish. Eunice is forced to speak: ".... Defensively, noticing Blanches look." Blanche is unhappy in Old Orleans and she shows that she does not want to be associated with the standard of living, this she shows by her facial expressions and her posture whilst she sits in her chair. We also know she is a secret drinker: " I rarely touch the stuff . . ." Blanche's drinking habit could be seen as a way of suppressing her guilt and anaesthetising her pain.

    • Word count: 1946
  21. Imagine that you have been asked to direct “A Streetcar named Desire” by Tennessee Williams. How would you present the play?

    He is proud to be who he is and everything that he owns. As described in the stage directions he loves, "good drink and food and games, his car, his radio." Stanley is a very powerful, dominating character. He is deeply in love with his wife Stella, but has a serious problem with controlling his temper and becomes very violent. In the beginning of the play Stanley is very welcoming and friendly to his sister-in-law that he's never met before. This is shown when Stanley first meets Blanche, when he asks her about her job and where she's from and even welcomes her to stay in his home, 'Stanley: "You going to shack up here?"

    • Word count: 1109
  22. 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
  23. The Depiction of Patriarchy in "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams

    This is a sign of Stanley?s believed s****l ownership over his wife, and an example of how Stella is oppressed within the marriage. Stella?s response also reinforces the idea that the women are the ?passive? within the hegemonic idea of what marriage ought to be. Further on in the scene, Stanley?s acts of violence towards Stella escalate. ?Drunk ? drunk ? animal thing, you! ? You lay your hands on me and I?ll-.? This portrays Stella?s reaction to the threat of Stanley?s violence, before backing away.

    • Word count: 1015

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