"A streetcar named desire" -Tennessee Williams Flashcards Preview

A Doll's House and A Streetcar Named Desire (Paper 2) > "A streetcar named desire" -Tennessee Williams > Flashcards

Flashcards in "A streetcar named desire" -Tennessee Williams Deck (58):
1

When was streetcar written?

in 1947 the final version of the play was published

2

How was the first version of the play titled?

"The moth"- evidentially the metaphor of Blanche as a delicate doomed moth, waiting for a lover who never comes.

The changes in the title indicates a shift of emphasis in the play.

3

What is the significance of William's personal context within the play? - how is this reflected within different characters in the play?

HE RELIED ON HIS OWN LIFE FOR INSPIRATION. Both a strength (vividness) and limitation of his writing.

- Dad was a drinker (influenced Blanch and Stanley)
- Dad was abusive towards women. (Stanley)
- Mother had hysterical attacks (influenced Blanch)
- His parent's marriage was unhappy
- He was gay (Allen Blanches old dead boyfriend); he never openly dealt with his homosexuality, not even directly in his writings
- He came from the racist south with discrimination against gay people (why Blanches old boyfriend kills himself)
- He was depressed after his longterm boyfriend committed suicide (Allen)
- Sister is institutionalized for mental illness (Blanch)
- Post World war II and great depression (characters try to rebuild their lives in postwar USA→ describes a broken world) The war made it easier for Stanly to “climb up the social ladder” and marry Stella. Also during the war women became more independent because they had to do all the jobs, which men used to do, before they went to war.
- portrais Stanley as an immigrant ("Polack") who is being marginalised and degraded by the post colonial upper class. This shows that he has somewhat of an understanding for the immigrants. However he does not give the negro women a name which shows to the modern audience that he does have some sort of digressive perspectives of the immigrants of a lower class.
- Williams demonstrates the post WW2 societies inability to adapt to him being gay through the contrasting Stella and Blanche. Stella adapts to her new downfall in social class however Blanche seems unable to do so and continues to live in the past. She looks down on people who are of a supposed lower class than she is and ironically calls Stanley "a survivor of the stone age" when in fact she is the one stuck in the past.
- he suffered nervous breakdowns, success did not seem to bring him happiness and underwent psychotherapy for depression; drug-taking
- his writing deteriorated later on and was indifferent to his failures and finally chocked to death on one of his pills.

4

How is dependence on men displayed within streetcar? -Stella Specific-

Williams uses Blanche’s and Stella’s dependence on men to expose and critique the treatment of women during the transition from the old to the new South. Both Blanche and Stella see male companions as their only means to achieve happiness, and they depend on men for both their sustenance and their self-image.
Blanche recognizes that Stella could be happier without her physically abusive husband, Stanley. Yet, the alternative Blanche proposes—contacting Shep Huntleigh for financial support—still involves complete dependence on men. When Stella chooses to remain with Stanley, she chooses to rely on, love, and believe in a man instead of her sister. Williams does not necessarily criticize Stella—he makes it quite clear that Stanley represents a much more secure future than Blanche does.

5

How is dependence on men displayed within streetcar? -Blanche Specific-

For herself, Blanche sees marriage to Mitch as her means of escaping destitution. Men’s exploitation of Blanche’s sexuality has left her with a poor reputation. This reputation makes Blanche an unattractive marriage prospect, but, because she is destitute, Blanche sees marriage as her only possibility for survival. When Mitch rejects Blanche because of Stanley’s gossip about her reputation, Blanche immediately thinks of another man—the millionaire Shep Huntleigh—who might rescue her. Because Blanche cannot see around her dependence on men, she has no realistic conception of how to rescue herself. Blanche does not realize that her dependence on men will lead to her downfall rather than her salvation. *By relying on men, Blanche puts her fate in the hands of others.*

6

Who is Blanche and specific character traits

- Stella’s older sister, who was a high school English teacher in Laurel, Mississippi, until she was forced to leave her post.
- Blanche is a loquacious and fragile woman around the age of thirty.
- She is promiscuous giving her a poor reputation (slept with Students). She has sex for validations for herself and security.
- She avoids reality, preferring to live in her own imagination
- Blanche’s instability grows along with her misfortune
- She has a disorder (OCD) that she always bathes. This implies the metaphor that she tries to wash herself free form her sins.
- She gives the impression of delicacy and vulnerability, fading beauty
- class snobbery
- carries GUILT for her husband's suicide and about her promiscuity.
- heavy drinker - alcohol offers her temporary amnesia and reassurance
- she takes long baths to wash her guilt off (and it gives other characters the chance to talk in private)
- uses cheap seductive manners (e.g. Mitch)

7

How does Blanches character traits match the old title ("The Moth") of the play?

- She has self destructive patterns (sleeping with all these men and boys) just like a moth flying towards the light which ultimately means her death/complete loss of sanity.

8

Who is Stella and specific character traits

- Blanche’s younger sister, about twenty-five years old
- Of a more fragile and mild nature, which visibly sets her apart from her more vulgar neighbours
- Stella comes from the same timeworn aristocratic heritage as Blanche, but she jumped the sinking ship in her late teens and left Mississippi for New Orleans (lower class)
- married lower-class Stanley, with whom she shares a robust sexual relationship.
- After Blanche’s arrival, Stella is torn between her sister and her husband. Eventually, she stands by Stanley, perhaps in part because she gives birth to his child near the play’s end.
- Dismisses Blanche’s claim that Stanley raped her.
- Stella’s denial of reality at the play’s end shows that she has more in common with her sister than she thinks.
- She is very dependent on her Husband (sexually and financially)
- If she were to believe the accusations of Blanche's rape, then that would mean turning against Stanley, which is not possible for her.
- she is quiet, reserved and does noticeably mind that Blanche treats her like a child and "blessed baby", it is no of importance to her because it doesn't revolve around Stanley, the only thing that matters.
- She is deeply in love with her husband, and this love is the corner stone of her existence
- Yet also she cares deeply fore her family: she is distressed when she hears of the loss of Belle Reve, she weeps when Blanche accuses her of indifference to the fate of her family; and she weeps bitterly when Blanche is taken to the mental hospital.
- Stella is likely to carry this as a burden of guilt, as a price to be paid for the preservation of her marriage.

9

Describe Stellas relationship with Stanley

- Robust and Sexual
- Stella’s union with Stanley is both animal and spiritual, violent but renewing.

10

Who is Stanley and specific character traits

- The husband of Stella.
- Polish-American immigrant
- Stanley is the epitome of vital force. He is loyal to his friends, passionate to his wife, and heartlessly cruel to Blanche.
- With his Polish ancestry, he represents the new, heterogeneous America.
- He dislikes the idea of a class system and wishes to destroy Blanche’s social pretensions.
!!- He expresses his hostility to Blanche through sexual domination, the only way he feels powerful.
- Around thirty years of age, Stanley, who fought in World War II, now works as an auto-parts salesman.
- Practicality is his forte, and he has no patience for Blanche’s distortions of the truth.
- He lacks ideals and imagination.
- He beats his wife and rapes his sister-in-law. Horrifyingly, he shows no remorse.
- Has a power issue because he feels threatened by Stella.
- Insecure because his wife comes from different (higher) class (she comes from a noble large family).
- His intense masculinity, his awareness of his sexual magnetism, his pride from his ability to attract and satisfy women are the core of his personality.
- His ungrammatical and colloquial speech betrays his LACK OF EDUCATION.

11

Who is Mitch and specific character traits

- Stanley’s army friend, coworker, and poker buddy.
- Likes Blanche until he finds out that she lied to him about her sordid past.
- Is around thirty years of age.
- Mitch is more sensitive and more gentlemanly than Stanley and his other friends, perhaps because he lives with his mother, who is slowly dying.
- Blanche and Mitch are an unlikely match: Mitch doesn’t fit the bill of the chivalric hero, the man Blanche dreams will come to rescue her. Nevertheless, they bond over their lost loves.
- Mitch's interest in Blanche encourages Stanley to think of her as sexually desirable.
- Stanley needs his admiration and respect, which is why he feels jealous about Blanche and Mitch - his masculine position is threatened.

12

Who is Eunice and specific character traits

- Stella’s friend, upstairs neighbor, and landlady.
- Eunice and her husband, Steve, represent the low-class, carnal life that Stella has chosen for herself in New Orleans.
- Like Stella, Eunice accepts her husband’s affections despite his physical abuse of her.

13

What did Allen's death mark for Blanche

Allan’s death, which marked the end of Blanche’s sexual innocence, has haunted her ever since. (Polka song in her head, which always ends with the bang of the gun)

14

What is significant about the Stage directions in Streetcar in comparison to Doll's House

Are very subjective and include a certain sense of emotions and are very visual.
This is more common for a novel rather than a play. However in a play such as Dolls house, the stage directions are simply descriptive and factual of the physical surrounding.

15

Symbols in Streetcar (Simple list)

0) Streetcar - the fate is destined by desire
1) Shadows and Cries
2) The Varsouviana Polka
3) “It’s Only a Paper Moon”
4) Meat
5) endless baths - to wash of guilt
6) musical themes - provide a local color but more importantly mark the change of mood, convey a menace, and underline a tragic development
!!7) Stanley - as new America of the immigrants - urban, egalitarian, ruthless, vibrantly alive
!!8) Blanche - the decadent old plantation culture rooted in the slavery system

16

Shadows and Cries (Symbolic meaning)

As Blanche and Stanley begin to fight in Scene Ten (rape), various oddly shaped shadows begin to appear on the wall behind her.
Discordant noises and jungle cries also occur as Blanche begins to descend into madness. All of these effects combine to dramatize Blanche’s final breakdown and departure from reality in the face of Stanley’s physical threat.
When she loses her sanity in her final struggle against Stanley, Blanche retreats entirely into her own world. Whereas she originally colors her perception of reality according to her wishes, at this point in the play she ignores reality completely.

17

The Varsouviana Polka (Symbolic meaning)

The Varsouviana is the polka tune to which Blanche and her young husband, Allen Grey, were dancing when she last saw him alive.
The polka music plays at various points in A Streetcar Named Desire, when Blanche is feeling remorse for Allen’s death as it ends with the gun shot.

The polka and the moment it evokes represent Blanche’s loss of innocence. The suicide of the young husband Blanche loved dearly was the event that triggered her mental decline. Since then, Blanche hears the Varsouviana whenever she panics and loses her grip on reality.

The audience can hear the polka but the other actors hear nothing, which amplifies her ISOLATION and the problems that never reach another person outside herself.

18

“It’s Only a Paper Moon” (Symbolic meaning)

Blanche sings this while she bathes.
The song’s lyrics describe the way love turns the world into a “phony” fantasy. The speaker in the song says that if both lovers believe in their imagined reality, then it’s no longer “make-believe.”
These lyrics sum up Blanche’s approach to life. She believes that her fibbing is only her means of enjoying a better way of life and is therefore essentially harmless.
As Blanche sits in the tub singing Stanley tells Stella the details of Blanche’s sexually corrupt past. Williams ironically juxtaposes Blanche’s fantastical understanding of herself with Stanley’s description of Blanche’s real nature. In reality, Blanche is a scam who feigns propriety and sexual modesty.
Once Mitch learns the truth about Blanche, he can no longer believe in Blanche’s tricks and lies.

19

Main Motifs of Streetcar?

1) Light
2) Bathing
3) Drunkenness
4) Streetcar

20

Explain the Motif of light

Light symbolizes the reality of Blanche’s past and her confrontation with it. It is what she has lost—her first love, her purpose in life, her dignity, and her social class status. Her avoidance of life is her decent into her make-believe magic world.
Covers lightbulbs with Paper lanterns and refuses to go out during the day (date with Mitch)
Mitch points out Blanche’s avoidance of light in Scene Nine, when he confronts her with the stories Stanley has told him of her past. Mitch then forces Blanche to stand under the direct light- revealing the reality. Blanche’s inability to tolerate light means that her grasp on reality is also nearing its end. Blanche deliberately keeps herself out of the harsh glare of reality.

Bright light represents Blanche’s youthful sexual innocence, while poor light represents her sexual maturity and disillusionment.
Her love for Mitch filled everything in bright vivid light (tells Mitch on date). Ever since he died the bright light has been missing. Through all of Blanche’s inconsequential sexual affairs with other men, she has experienced only dim light.

The light is also a representation of her journey towards insanity. The bright light is the happier the time. As it was when she was together with her Husband Allen. She was pure and sane. However, as time goes on and she becomes more “dirty” and has more things to hide of her true self. Therefore, as the play goes on she wants more darkness to hide her true self. it ends with complete darkness when she has gone absolutely insane.

21

Explain the Motif of bathing

The baths represent her efforts to cleanse herself of her odious history. Yet, just as she cannot erase the past, her bathing is never done.

It is also a sign of her extreme selfishness as when she takes a bath she blocks the bathroom for a longtime. She thinks that she is in the perfect privileged to take these long baths because she is of a higher social class.

Stanley also turns to water to undo a misdeed when he showers after beating Stella. The shower serves to soothe his violent temper; afterward, he leaves the bathroom feeling remorseful and calls out longingly for his wife.

22

Explain the Motif of drunkenness

Stanley and Blanche drink excessively at various points during the play.
Stanley’s drinking is social: he drinks with his friends at the bar, during their poker games, and to celebrate the birth of his child.
Blanche’s drinking, on the other hand, is anti-social, and she tries to keep it a secret. She drinks on the sly in order to withdraw from harsh reality.
For both characters, drinking leads to destructive behavior: Stanley commits domestic violence, and Blanche deludes herself. Yet Stanley is able to rebound from his drunken escapades, whereas alcohol fuels Blanche’s gradual departure from sanity into insanity.

23

Explain the Motif of the Streetcar

The streetcar named desire embodies destiny and self-destruction because of the passion and sexuality. Destiny is because the streetcars can only go one direction and there is no other option to leave the tracks than to completely crashing.

24

Define non-diegetic sound (example in play)

If the music comes from off and not from the scene itself. (part of the narrative)

Ex. Polka music Blanche hears, Blue piano

25

Define diegetic sound (example in play)

If someone puts on music in the play (on stage)

Ex. Blanche turning on the radio

26

Main themes in Streetcar?

1) Sexual desire
2) Fantasy and delusion
3) Interior and Exterior appearance
4) Masculinity and physicality
5) Felinity and dependence
6) Love in sensuality

27

Explain the theme of sexual desire for Blanche, Stella and Stanley and how it also leads to destruction.

The power of sexual desire is the engine propelling A Streetcar Named Desire: all of the characters are driven by desire in various ways:

Blanche:
Much of Blanche’s conception of how she operates in the world relies on her perception of herself as an object of male sexual desire. Her interactions with men always begin with flirtation.
Victims of her flirting: Mitch, Mail boy, and Stanley
Blanche clings to her sexuality more and more desperately as the play progresses. Blanche’s desires have led her down paths of sexual promiscuity and alcoholism, and by coming to stay with the Kowalskis, she has reached the end of the line.

Stella:
Stella’s desire for Stanley pulls her away from Belle Reve and her past. Stella is drawn to Stanley’s brute, animal sexuality, and he is drawn to her traditional, domestic, feminine sexuality. Stella is pregnant: her sexuality is deeply tied to both womanliness and motherhood. Even though Stanley is violent to Stella, their sexual dynamic keeps them together.

Stanley:
Stanley’s sexuality and his masculinity are extremely interconnected: he radiates a raw, violent, brute animal magnetism. Stanley’s sexuality asserts itself violently over both Stella and Blanche. Desire of rape leads to destruction.

28

Explain the theme of fantasy and delusion

Blanche’s desire to escape the reality causes her to lose touch with the world around her. By the end of the play, Blanche can no longer distinguish between fantasy and real life.
Blanche delusion of what is reality and what is her make-believe world affects her interactions with other characters and her surroundings.
Although Blanch tries to wrap herself in the trappings of her former Southern belle self, she must eventually face facts that she is no longer part of an upper class and the women she always thought she was.

29

How does desire lead to destruction within Streetcar?

Throughout the play, sexual desire is linked to destruction. Even in supposedly loving relationships, sexual desire and violence are yoked: Stanley hits Stella, and Steve beats Eunice. Also Blanche’s pursuit of sexual desire has led to the loss of Belle Reve, and her eventual removal from society.

30

Why does Blanche try to keep her fantasy world alive?

Throughout the play, She clings to the false, illusory world of paper lanterns and satin robes: if she can keep up the appearance of being an innocent ingénue, she can continue to see herself in this fashion rather than face her checkered past and destitute present. By maintaining an illusory exterior appearance, Blanche hopes to hide her troubled interior from both herself and the world at large.

The paper lantern hides the ugly realty of light.

31

Explain the theme of interior and exterior appearance

The audience of Streeetcar sees both the inside of the Kowalskis’ apartment as well as the street.
It symbolically demonstrates the complicated relationship between what goes on in the mind versus what occurs in real life. As the play progresses, the split between Blanche’s fantasy world and reality becomes sharper and clearer to every character in the play except Blanche, for whom the interior and exterior worlds become increasingly blurred.

Social and class distinctions also point to the tension between interior and exterior. Blanche is trying to maintain her own sense of external social superiority towards Stanley by calling him a "Polack".

Williams uses music to play with the boundary between the interior and the exterior. The “blue piano” that frequently plays outside evokes tension and fraught emotions inside the apartment. Although the blue piano is a part of the exterior world, it expresses the feelings occurring inside the characters.

32

Explain the theme of Masculinity and physicality

Masculinity, particularly in Stanley, is linked to the idea of a brute, aggressive, animal force as well as carnal lust. His brute strength is emphasized frequently throughout, and he asserts dominance aggressively through loud actions and violence. Much emphasis is placed on Stanley’s physical body: he is frequently seen stripping his shirt off.

Stanley asserts his masculinity physically as well as psychologically. Physically, he bellows in a sort of animal mating call at Stella. He also forces himself upon Blanche.
Psychologically, he investigates Blanche’s sordid past and brings it into the limelight, airing Blanche’s dirty laundry (both literally and metaphorically) to affirm his position as not only the alpha male but also the head of the household.

He has tender responses to Stella’s pregnancy; his tone shifts suddenly both when he breaks the news to Blanche and when Stella tells him that she is in labor. He also breaks down when Stella leaves him after he hits her.

33

How do Stanley and Mitch differ in their assertion in power?

Stanley represents the powerfully attractive but powerfully frightening threat of masculinity.
Mitch represents masculinity as a trait of comfort and refuge. If Stanley is the alpha male, Mitch is a beta male: still a masculine force, but not asserting the same kind of physical dominance over the space.

Mitch still finds his power through physical assertion. Mitch brags about his body to Blanche and insists on his precise measurements.
Even though Mitch isn’t as violently male as Stanley, he is just as imposing a physical specimen.
Blanche sees Mitch as male enough to radiate a carnal attractiveness, but not physically or psychologically dangerous in the way that Stanley is.

34

Explain the theme of felinity and dependence (Blanche, Stella, Eunice)

Blanche and Stella demonstrate two different types of femininity in the play, yet both find themselves dependent on men. Blanche and Stella define themselves in terms of the men in their lives, and they see relationships with men as the only avenue for happiness and fulfillment.

Blanche:
Blanche is a fading Southern belle who clings to coquettish trappings, preferring “magic” and the night to reality and the light of day. She performs a delicate, innocent version of femininity because she believes that this makes her most attractive to men. Men have taken advantage of her nervous, fragile state.

Blanche insists that Stella should attempt to get away from the physically abusive Stanley, but her solution also involves dependence on men, as she proposes that they contact the Dallas millionaire Shep Huntleigh for financial assistance.

Even though Blanche’s first marriage ended disastrously, she sees marriage as her only path. Blanche views Mitch as a refuge and a way to rejuvenate her shattered life.

Stella:
Stella’s femininity is based not on illusions and tricks but on reality. She does not try to hide who she is nor hide from her present circumstances. Stella’s pregnancy asserts the real, physical, unmasked nature of her conception of herself as a woman. Stella chooses her physical love for and dependence on Stanley over Blanche’s schemes. Even though Stanley hits her, she is not in something she wants to get out of, as she explains to Blanche.

Eunice:
Eunice demonstrates a similar, practical reliance on men, and she convinces Stella that she has made the right decision by staying with Stanley rather than believing Blanche’s story about the rape.

35

Explain the theme of love in sensuality

Blanche constantly searches for love in sexuality. However she seems to only experience the pure sexuality of it and even with her husband didn’t experience true passion in love. However, Stella receives both love and passion.

36

what is the significance of the Blue Piano?

Highlights the themes of the play and sets the mood (non-diegetic sound).
In scenes with great passion it expresses the life in the elision field. (When Stella and Stanley reunite scene). The juxtaposes with the idea of true passion as it plays when Blanche is raped. This suggests that it is something normal in the life of the Elision fields and symbolizes the rough (over)passionate love.

37

Points of comparison between Streetcar and Dolls house

Dependence on men:
-Both Blanche and Stella are in someway or another dependent on a man. (Blanche= self confirmation and fulfilment, Stella= passion and desire to Stanley)
-Nora in contrast fights to get out of the dependence on Torvald.

Hiding who you really are:
-Both Blanche and Nora hide who they really are. Whilst Nora is able to reveal herself, Blanche goes insane and moves further away from reality.

38

How does Blanche attempt to gain power of Stanley and men in general?

- Blanche is in power in sexual relationship as she uses the men simply for their money and self-confirmation
- Blanche knows that she can take away power from Stanly if she forces him out of his comfort zone. This is because he is worried about being married to a women in the upper class, whilst he comes from the lower class.
- Blanche nurtures in power when men become self-conscious around her (Mitch) as this puts her in her beautiful lady position.
- Blanches use of a more sophisticated language puts her in a supposed higher position, giving her more power. (reflects her (old) social position)

39

How does Blanche loose power?

- loss of power for Blanche is when she looses the family home and with that her family fortune. This caused her to degrade in social value and with that power.
- Her entering Stanleys world causes her to loose power as she is no longer in control and he gradually finds out more about her past life and guilt.

40

How does Stanley gain in power?

- Through his brute physicality he gains in power in the sexual relationship between man and women.
- Stanly can only represent his power through the presentation of his sexuality and manliness (takes off his shirt when Blanche meets him the first time).
- When Stanly overhears that Blanche thinks of him as being an ape and an animal he gains power, as he knows more about what she thinks of him than the other way around. This also creates tension and is often used in Shakespearian plays.

41

Explain the opposing power play between Blanche and Stanley

She searches for compliments from the male figure through flirting yet he constantly degrades women in order to be more powerful.

42

What are the Elysian Fields?

Elysian Fields, the Kowalskis’ rundown street, is named for the land of the dead in Greek mythology.

43

What is the consequence of sexual passion?

It may exert an in inexorable force that will take its victim along a path to self-destruction that is as unbending as the tracks of a streetcar.

44

Background of Stanley

Polish-American; they were labors, mostly uneducated, who were looked upon. This class element creates an additional dimension to the sexual tension between Blanche and Stanley.

45

Blanche's inconsistent behavior

her cultural pretentious are designed to impress people with her superiority, and stand in contrast to there genuine love of poetry. She is willfully ignorant of the cause of the loss of Belle Reve, yet she understands that the root was the cavalier attitude to money. This makes her MORE HUMAN and less predictable. Sometimes she herself is uncertain about her motives for her behavior.

46

Blanche and true love

She has never experienced true passion or sexual desire from anyone. Passion like Stella and Stanley are beyond her imagining. Self-absorption also explains her inability to understand the effects of her behavior.

47

Tennessee Williams and sexual desire (context)

Like Blanche, Tennessee Williams was driven throughout his life form one sexual encounter to another, again like Blanche he too seemed incapable of committing himself to a permanent relationship.

48

"Death" as a theme in the play

The streetcar to Desire was linked with another going to "Cemeteries". This link was to Williams a logical sequence, with early death the outcome of a life driven by passion.

Context: Williams escaped near-death as a child and suffered under extreme hypochondria. His sister had frontal lobotomy and died shortly after.

49

"Madness" as a theme in the play

Blanche's fear of madness is first hinted at in Scene 1: "I can't be alone! Because - as you must have noticed - I'm - not very well..." Her husband death shattered her and the harrowing deaths of Belle Reve also took their toll. By this time she had begun her descent into promiscuity and alcoholism. She begins to create her sanity world of adoring, respectful admirers.

Furthermore, Stanley's revelations of Blanche's past (which force her to confront it), Mitch's rejection of her as a lair who is "not clean enough", his contemptuous attempt at raping her, and finally Stanley's violations of her -- all these BRUTAL acts BREAK HER. She retreats from the unbearably reality into her make-believe world.

Context: Tennessee also had experience with madness due to the sister having preformed pre-frontal lobotomy. Guilty and fear that he might have inherited that mental illness drove him crazy.

50

Why does Stanley resent Blanche?

He sees her as an intruder in a close, passionate sexual relationship between him and Stella but also between his friends (e.g. Mitch). She reminds him of his wife's superior background, representing values that he cannot and will not appreciate. Instinctively he sees Blanche as an enemy and sets out to drive her away. Given his character - and Blanche's - the antagonism between them is sexual in nature, and Stanley finally wins over her via the rape.

51

Why did Williams write in an unconventional structure of 11 scenes opposed to acts?

He felt that his particular talent was for writing short one-act plays, and that he could not sustain dramatic tension for three acts of conventional length. Every scene ends with a punchline or a dramatic gesture.

52

What was the root of the fairly rapid shifts of focus and short scenes in the play?

Williams was heavily influenced by the golden age of cinema and also shares another hollywood features such as melodramatic elements, the use of sensational scenes of violence and passion. More than 15 films were made., proving adaptability. The stage directions also remind of the panoramic scope of a camera. He was the film critic of his school magazine, paying close attention to film methodology.

53

Happy ending?

The anticipation of disaster is muted, but the audience are already aware that there will be no happy ending, with the relationships between the characters have crystallized over time.

54

The use of TIME in the play

Time is used as a dramatic device in the sequence of 11 scenes. The first six follow one another quite slowly, the next four shorter scenes move at greater speeds, thereby creating the attention of a violent and tragic climax. The last scene maintains the illusion of humdrum everyday activities which is shattered by Blanche's struggle to escape, followed by the stored illusion of calm.

55

Sounds used in the play

Williams uses sound effectively to focus our attention on Blanche's mental state.
• jungle-like cries together with the shadows on the wall represent terror and confusion
• polka reminds her of the suicide
• streetcar rattling of the unchanging fate

56

purpose of the unusually descriptive stage directions

They ensure that the drama sets evoke the right atmosphere. The directions are evocative, accurate and employ poetic images to convey their meaning.

57

What explanation does Blanche give for her promiscuity?

After her husband’s death, she went to pieces with grief and guilt. In an attempt to fill this void, she became promiscuous: “After the death of Allan—intimacies with strangers was all I seemed able to fill my empty heart with.” Her attraction to young soldiers and high school students also supports the idea that her promiscuity was linked to the traumatic death of her young husband.

58

Blanche concludes that death is the opposite of desire. What does she mean?

Desire makes us feel alive, and sexual desire leads to procreation and life. Without desire, without passion for the beauty in life, one might as well be dead. This explains why Blanche turned to sex as a response to all of the sickness and death surrounding her at the time.