Biography of the Author, and Literary Critism
Tennessee Williams's play A Streetcar Named Desire contains more within it's characters, situations, and story than appears on its surface. As in many of Williams's plays, there is much use of symbolism and interesting characters in order to draw in and involve the audience. The plot of A Streetcar Named Desire alone does not captivate the audience. It is Williams's brilliant and intriguing characters that make the reader truly understand the play's meaning. He also presents a continuous flow of raw, realistic moods and events in the play which keeps the reader fascinated in the realistic fantasy Williams has created in A Streetcar Named Desire. The symbolism, characters, mood, and events of this play collectively form a captivating, thought-provoking piece of
A Streetcar Named Desire produces a very strong reaction. Even at the beginning of the play, the reader is confronted with extremely obvious symbolism in order to express the idea of the play. Blanche states that she was told «to take a streetcar named Desire, and then to transfer to one called Cemeteries». One can not simply read over this statement without assuming Williams is trying to say more than is written. Later in the play, the reader realizes that statement most likely refers to Blanche's arriving at the place and situation she is now in because of her servitude to her own desires and urges. What really makes A Streetcar Named Desire such an exceptional literary work is the development of interesting, involving characters. As the play develops, the audience sees that Blanche is less proper and refined than she might appear or claim to be. Her sexual desire and tendency to drink away her problems make Blanche ashamed of her life and identity. Desire was the «rattle-trap streetcar» that brought her to her pitiful state in life.
Blanche is the most fascinating
character in A Streetcar Named Desire. One reason for this is that she has an absolutely brilliant way of making reality seem like fantasy, and making fantasy seem like reality. This element of Blanche's personality is what makes her character interest the audience and contribute to the excellence of the work. Returning to the beginning of the play, Blanche, shocked with the dirtiness and gloominess of Stella and Stanley's home in New Orleans, looks out the window and says «Out there I suppose is the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir!», to which Stella replies «No honey, those are the L and N tracks.» Blanche would assume that something so common and simple as noisy, dark railroad tracks might as well be «ghoul-haunted woodlands.» Further evidence of Blanche's warped view of reality and fantasy is shown throughout the entire play. She seems to hint to Stella and Stanley, and therefore the audience, that she is actually much more than she seems. In scene seven, Blanche soaks in a tub, singing:
«Say, it's only a
paper moon, sailing over a cardboard sea
- But it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me!
It's a Barnum and Bailey world, Just as phony as it can be
- But it wouldn't be make-believe If you believed in me!»
As she sings this song, telling the story of her tendency to believe a more pleasant, warped view of reality over the actual reality, Stanley is telling Stella the horrifying truth about Blanche's scandalous past. The reader is as drawn into Blanche's illusion as much as Stella is, and just as Stella refuses to believe Stanley's harsh words, the audience also does not want to accept that the view they have had of Blanche for a good deal of the play is nothing more than a story made up to hide her unpleasant history. The clearest example of this is also one of the most intense and involving scenes of the entire play. In scene nine, Blanche is confronted by Mitch, who has learned the truth about her past. Mitch tells Blanche that he has never seen her in the light. He tears Blanche's paper lantern off of the plain, bright light bulb, and tries to see her as she really is, and not in a view warped by Blanche's efforts to make herself seem more innocent, young, and beautiful than she is. Blanche responds to this by saying «I don't want realism. I want magic!...I try to give that to people. I misinterpret things to them. I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth...Don't turn the light on!» This intense, frightening scene reveals to the audience the way Blanche views the world. Tennessee Williams's use of this kind of dual view of the world to develop Blanche's character is a perfect example of the way A Streetcar Named Desire makes the audience react to the characters in the play. It is this reaction between the audience and the brilliant characters in the play that makes the play such a valuable literary work.
The literary value of A Streetcar Named Desire is in Williams's ability to create a fantasy world which draws the reader into it as if it was their own reality. In some ways, the setting and conflict of the play is familiar to the reader, but in many ways the conflicting worlds of Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois are too different to share the same reality. Tennessee Williams's world in A Streetcar Named Desire, and the characters within it, become so familiar and fascinating to the reader that every event that occurs in the play affects the reader's reaction to the overall outcome of the play and his opinions of the characters.
The theme of the play does not occur to the reader until after the play's overall experience is concluded, and he is left to reflect on just what
Tennessee Williams was trying to say in the play. While the play is being read, the audience is not interested in the overall meaning of the work, but simply in the intriguing action occurring at that moment in the play. However, A Streetcar Named Desire certainly contains many potential themes. One theme of the play could be that time is precious, and to waste it is to lose it. This theme of carpe diem, or «seize the day» is strong in the play. As time goes on in Blanche's life and her social behavior changes, she wastes away her youth. The loss of her young husband Allan has caused her loneliness, sexual desire, and even certain signs of psychological instability. All of these problems were increased by her attempt to lose them through drinking. What Blanche does not realize is that she can not change the past through the present. Blanche's youth is gone, and she tries to give the appearance of being as youthful and innocent as she once was, but her illusion can not last. As an epigraph to the play, Williams quotes from the poem «The Broken Tower», by Hart Crane:
«And so it was that I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.»
The use of this poem helps to express Williams's choice of theme in A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche has entered a «Broken world» of fear, longing, and sorrow because of her simple desire to hear «the visionary company of love, it's voice», or tender, gentle words of love and appreciation from Stella and Mitch. However, these words are only «visionary». Blanche hopes that these words will bring to her what she needs to rebuild her life, but they do not last. Stanley feels he needs to prove that Blanche is not what she seems. To this end, he destroys her dreams of becoming what she wants to be, and not what she was. By telling Stella and Mitch about her activities in the past, Stanley ruins Blanche's illusion. Blanche won their love by covering the past, and she could no longer build a new person from herself. The breakdown of Blanche's character climaxes when Stanley rapes her, trying to prove to her that he always knew she was less than she appeared. After this event, Blanche is forced to deal with the reality that she can never change who she is, and she is doomed to live with her reputation. This final outcome for Blanche is a brutally realistic way of proving the idea that youth is precious and should not be wasted on trivial desires.
Pages: 1 2
Please do not pass this sample essay as your own, otherwise you will be accused of plagiarism. Our writers can write any custom essay for you!
Streetcar named desire by Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams uses setting to illustrate various themes and messages as they pertain to the events of the play. The setting plays a crucial role in the story line and the outcome of the play. This play takes place in New Orleans Louisiana. New Orleans is a very lively town A Streetcar Named Desire Essay In Tennessee William's masterful play, A Streetcar Named Desire, the reader meets a middle - aged woman by the name of Blanche DuBois. Blanche lives in her own faerie tale world, one of a young, beautiful debutante, surrounded by admirers, and loved by all whom she encounters. In reality, Blanche is an aging woman who The street car named desire Stanley’s Brutality In the Street Car Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, Stanley Kowalski displays his brutality in many ways. This classical play is about Blanche Dubois’s visit to Elysian Fields and her encounters with her sister’s brutal and arrogant husband, Stanley Kowalski, and the reveling truth of why Blanche really came. Stanley Kowalski is a A Streetcar Named Desire: Condeming Those Who Treat Others With Harshness and Cruelty One of the main themes expressed by Tennessee Williams in his play, A Streetcar Named Desire, is to condemn those who display cruelty and harshness in their Treatment of others, especially those who are weak and vulnerable. Three Characters who demonstrate these insensitive qualities are Blanche, Mitch, and Stanley.
Whether the cruelty is deliberate or not, Illusion and reality in a streetcar named desire Is illusion necessary to life? Discuss the role of illusion in the play.
I believe that illusion is not necessary to everyone's life but rather it helps them to avoid the harsh realities that they may have to deal with in their lives. I also believe that a major theme of this play was how our