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A Streetcar Named Desire
Terms in this set (42)
the audience knows something the tragic heroine does not. scene 7: "Blanche is singing... contrapuntally with Stanley's speech" Williams enhances the audience's empathy for Blanche by audibly juxtaposing her ignorant bliss with Stanley's savage attacks. While Blanche enjoys her fantasy world obliviously, Stanley destroys it.
Freytag's narrative structure
exposition (introduces characters, setting, actions: Blanche arrives), complication (problem arises: Stanley begins to suspect Blanche), climax (actual crisis: Stanley uncovers Blanche), resolution (outcome of decisions made to resolve crisis: none!), denouement (ties up loose ends: Blanche is sent away)
feeling of intense fear/ pity which purifies the emotions felt by the audience. scene 10: combination of expressionist theatre in "blue piano" and Stanley's pretadory movements "he takes a step towards her" emphasise to the audience how Blanche cannot escape the harshness of life. She is attacked by both her own past life, and those around her in her present life.
diverging or converging to make other speaker feel comfortable. scene 8: following being stood up by Mitch, the audience's sympathy for Blanche is built by Stella's obvious attempt to accomodate her, using honorific mode of address "Mr. Kowalski" to adopt Blanche's sociolect. Given that Stanley then erupts and destroys any tranquility that Blanche may have gained from this action, the audience see how Blanche is completely unable to gain any solace in society.
to raise the lexical proficiency of one's language. scene 2: Stanley advances his lexicon, "merchant", "acquaintance", "appraisal" to assert his dominance over his wife when referring to legal matters. Accentuates territorial character.
move away from lexical proficiency of other characters. scene 10: Blanche's escape to the imaginary world is evidenced by her upwards divergence from Stanley, when saying "a cultivated woman, a woman of intelligence and breeding, can enrich a man's life - immeasurably!". By raising her lexical proficiency, her languages mirrors her spiritual escape from this basic New Orleans society.
move away from lexical proficiency of other characters. scene 10: Stanley asserts his power by deferring from lexis that would be understandable for a cultured woman such as Blanche, by exclaiming "Oh! So you want some rough-house!". He makes Blanche incongruous with her surroundings.
character who undergoes dramatic fall from grace. Blanche.
character that breaches gap between audience and thoughts of characters. Expressionist theatre. Stella.
how to establish characterisation, and how these elements are shown
appearance, background, behaviour, speech style: shown by stage directions, dialogue, and observations
the prevalent view of what it is to be a man. scene 2: Stanley shows hegemonic masculinity by demanding that "what belongs to the wife belongs to the husband", showing his territorial, possessive nature.
the prevalent view of what it is to be a woman "baby", "catch!", "why don't you women go up and sit with Eunice?" accusative pronoun. in this society, the woman is the subservient role. they are weak and depend on men.
diminutive mode of address
the informal, disrespectful form of a name: "baby" stanley to Stella throughout the play. emphasises how he sees her as weak, nothing more than an infant. also, suggests he only considers her to be worthy of the respect an infant would receive.
honorific mode of address
the formal, respectful form of a name "my Rosenkavalier!" (knight of the rose) scene 5. Blanches honorific mode of address to describe the working class man shows how she allows herself to be taken away by her imagination. hints towards descent into madness.
where does Blanche and Stanley's power shift
scene 2 and scene 10
substitution of a more offensive or disparaging word or phrase for one considered less offensive.
A polite or vague word or phrase used to replace another word or phrase that is thought of as too direct or rude.
Williams uses features such as: short or fragmented utterances, ellipsis, elision, dialect and expletives to replicate 'natural' speech and create believable characters.
Character's speech style (idiolect)
The characters' speech is what gives them life and makes them believable people. The words they use convey their thoughts and emotions and help us to understand their motives. It is therefore important to look carefully at the words a dramatist puts in a character's mouth and how he makes them speak them
All the characters are Williams' constructs, he chooses what they say and how they say it. The language choices are designed to create a dramatic effect, you must consider and comment on what the effect is intended to be.
At the beginning of the 20th Century writers fascination with the past began to turn towards the economic decay symbolised by the decaying beauty of the plantations (Belle Reve). Playwrights began looking at the behaviour of the world and to address questions such as 'why did this happen?'. However, Williams asked 'what did it feel like to have this happen?' And focused on the workings of the human psyche (soul/mind/spirit)
As a southerner, Williams was affected by the American Civil War. Following their defeat by the Northern states, the south suffered economically. However, this air of decaying grandeur (splendour/impressiveness) added to the romantic appeal for writers including Williams. Whilst industrialisation flourished in cities, the plantation continued to decay.
Old South Vs New South
Stanley represents the American dream that all men are born equal and can succeed equally, whereas Blanche represents the old world, where class and race are still important issues.
Williams was homosexual and whilst this is clearly an aspect of his work it is important to remember that for the most of his life, homosexuality remained illegal. It was however, tolerated in some places such as New Orleans.
Cultural and Political context
Williams saw the South as a broken and damaged place in which the decay was somehow charming. He was an almost completely non - political writer that began to move away from writing about political issues to writing about the emotional burdens of everyday life.
Cultural and Political context
The tensions in this play come partly from cultural conflict, as the worlds of Blanche and Stanley are so opposed that neither can understand the other. They are from different worlds where money has different values.
Women in the Old South had a social and symbolic role, were expected to be passive and chaste. This world could not give Blanche what she needed and so she tried to marry into this 'culture' but she discovers that there is competition and deceit behind the facade.
Symbolism - 'Elysian'
Elysian Fields - abode of blessed dead in Greek mythology
Symbolism - 'Chinese lantern'
Chinese lantern - hiding ugliness of reality. Light unveils her true age and fading beauty (Blanche), represents harshness of reality, nowhere to hide, obsession with appearance.
Symbolism - 'moth'
Moth - fragility - Blanche - comes out at night, no substance, not as pretty as a butterfly.
Symbolism - Stanley and Blanche
Stanley and Blanche - symbols of two Americas: New America of immigrants against the decadent old plantation culture rooted in slavery systems.
Symbolism - Meat
Meat package - vulgar men, sexual connotations, New South, primitive.
Symbolism - 'Belle Reve'
Belle Reve - means 'beautiful dream' - name of plantation, representative of Old South and their charmed life as Southern Belles. Represents the past.
Symbolism - Stella and Blanche
Stella and Blanche - Stella is French for 'Star' and Blanche is French for 'White' - they are pure, sophisticated and pretty - Southern Belles.
Symbolism - Bathing
Bathing - Blanche attempts to purify herself trying to be clean again. She had sinned in the past and wants to redeem herself. She feels unsettled/agitated.
Structure and plot
11 scenes which stand alone and lead to a natural climax or dramatic gesture (most end or centre around Blanche who has the final say). Relationships and developments of characters.
Detailed to create an atmosphere that heightens tension.
Sound effects - Blue Piano
Blue Piano - the spirit and symbol of vitality of New Orleans
Sound effects - Varsouviana Polka
Polka - Blanches guilty memory of husband, sound of death heard by only her. Old fashioned music reflects the Old South.
Sound effects - discordance
Harsh discords - for the rape and Blanche's removal to mental hospital.
Symbolism - Streetcar
The power of desire as the driving force behind characters. Desire is a controlling force when it takes over.
He is linked to the idea of brute, aggressive animal force. Asserts dominance through loud actions and violence. Emphasised through the clothes that he wears (bright, lurid colours)
"Richly feathered bird among hens"
"Gaudy seed bearer"
"29 years old"
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