(Streetcar/Malfi) Death/Destruction

  • Created by: NHow02
  • Created on: 25-02-19 19:04
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  • Death/ Destruction
    • Duchess of Malfi
      • Corruption
        • 'I have this night digged up a mandrake'
          • 'cover her face...mine eyes dazzle'
            • Elizabethan belief that when one twin dies the other's soul does as well
              • Eyes are typically seen as 'windows to the soul'
            • In this moment, Ferdinand distances himself from his sister (her goodness exposed his darkness)
          • ForeshadowsFerdinand's lycanthropia (creates devilish/ beastial effect)
            • Ferdinand gave in to his baser instincts of 'ambition blood or lust'
              • Mental illness was associated with lack of morals (possessed by the Devil)
          • Aphrodisiac + poison (once uprooted it drives someone insane)
            • TS Eliot: Webster always saw the 'skull beneath the skin'
              • Webster uses this play to reflect the secrecy & corruption of the English court
      • Status
        • 'diamonds are of most value, they say, that have passed through most jeweller's hands'
          • 'All the diamonds were changed to pearls'
            • Duchess' status was a mask against life's harsh realities (only thing that protected her and she cast it aside)
              • The Bible states that Adam & Eve wept a lake of pearls after being cast out of paradise
            • Elizabeth I was often painted wearing pearls to present her as a 'virgin queen'
              • Leggatt: 'variety and vitality of her nature as a whole.'
                • However, still a well sought after jewel. Duchess retains her authority
                  • 'I am Duchess of Malfi still.'
            • Can be a colourless or precious stone
          • 'Jeweller's hands' - moulded into a 'feminine ideal' OR her virtue is improved with sexual experience
            • Highborn 'Renaissance marriages' were practical matters and used for alliances
            • Excess sexuality: 'Hysteria' is derived from the Latin word 'Hyster' meaning 'womb'
          • Defined by materialism and wealth. (Webster fails to give her a name - a prize to be won)
    • Streetcar Named Desire
      • 'crumpled white satin evening gown'
        • 'evening' suggests fading light/ life, only time she'll be seen, seductive time
        • 'White' is a symbol of innocence & purity
        • Juxtaposition shows battling perceptions of the feminine ideal
          • Williams: 'destructive power of society on the sensitive non-conformist individual'
        • 'moonlight swim'
          • Lunacy comes from the world 'luna' meaning 'moon'
        • 'peels of laughter are heard as if a child were frolicking in the tub'
          • The homophone 'peels' suggests Blanche is ********* away her sins as well as reality
            • Reminiscent of Lady Macbeth, who is stained by her sins (seeking purity)
          • Child-like image suggests she is seeking rejuvenation as if the bath was a 'fountain of youth'
            • Subject to the reverse (OR lobotomy leaves her in child-like innocence)
          • Blanche wants to wash away/forget everything, and is in turn forgotten
            • Williams' sister was admitted to an insane asylum and subject to a lobotomy
      • Madness
        • Scene 11: [filtered into a weird distortion, accompanied by the cries and noises of the jungle]
          • By entering the 'polka game' of life, Blanche seals her fate
            • The play was originally called 'The Polka Night'
          • Number of time the tune plays increases towards the end (creating a feverish effect)
            • Music is always followed by a shot (replays her husband's death + hers with him)
          • Darwinian idea of 'survival of the fittest'
            • Shawn Alff describes the play as a 'heathens paradise'
              • The ideal of the American Dream
          • 'distortion' suggests she is underwater/ drowing


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