A Streetcar Named Desire

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Reality Vs. Dream

  • Stella escapes the reality of her marriage and Blanche's trauma through overlooking Stanley's actions in the play After the poker night she is in a dream like state suggesting Stanley's love is an illusion to protect her dysfunctional marriage 
  • Desire through Cemeteries to Elysian Fields allegorically foreshadows her mental descent through the play. Her desire to escape causes her to lose touch with reality. End of play cannot distinguish btwn fantasy and real life 
  • Tension btwn fantasy and reality in New Orleans. Stanley's practicality  represents the real world and searches for the truth while Blanche wraps herself in the Southern Belle fantasy to escape her more promiscuous past. The transition between her confession in scene 9 and her exaggerated, desperate version in S10 shows her despairty to keep her illusion away and her spiralling mental stablity.  Eventually she cannot exist in the real world is confined to a mental hospital on the confines of society (real life). Separation of delusion and real life? 
  • Blanche only appears in darkness and shadows avoiding the harsh glare of reality. Covers the light with paper lanterns. The 'paper' represents the fragility of her illusions which is smashed by Mitch in Scene 9 
  • Paper Moon - illusion becoming reality- Blanche does not succeed in this goal and to the end deludes herself to avoid reality 'I always depended on the kindness of strangers'. 
  • Mitch is blinded by the fantasy of marrying a good woman to see Blanche's flaws. When Stanley shatters this he, unlike Blanche, cannot continue the fantasy of marriage. 
  • Alcohol exaggerates fantasy and reality in the characters- Blanche uses it to help convince herself of her fantasy and makes it seem more real as it impairs the senses. 
  • Invasion of interior from exterior violence. Characters bring in the exterior problems into the sanctuary of the home e.g scene 10 - violence outside the apartment foreshadows the **** 
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Tragedy

Aristotle- 'to arouse the emotions of pity and fear in the emotion...in such a way as to effect that special purging and relief(catharisis)'. Success in this incl. involving the audience through the force of progression. Protaganist should experience a anagnorisis of his/her fate.                             Blanche does not experience anagnorisis/ Catharsis in the play, continues her delusion until the end however it is ambigious to the audience if she knows secretly of her fate                               The Polka suggests that Blanche has a form of tragic guilt for her husband however the Polka seems to appear at moments of self-pity rather than awareness of her action in her husbands death (disputed by the scene where she tells mitch?)                                                                         See Apollonian vs Dino                                                                                                        Catastrophe for Blanche is questionable. The ****; Her husbands death; Stanley's discovery of her past;  The loss of Belle Reve or her arrival at Elysian Fields. The **** brings her to the mental asylum but the others further her mental detoriation.                                                                         Stanley as the antagonist and Blanche as the protaginist is questionable- Blanche is sometimes as well liked as Stanley is. Blanche's harmartia- her inability to drag herself out of delusion            Reference of Elysian Fields- Greek heaven for heros. This foreshadowing at the beginning of the play reflects the Greeks focus of fate being chosen by the Gods.                                                       Points throughout the play where it seems that the hero will succeed. 

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Light and Shadows

Light= true love- the kind of reality she has not experienced since her husband died, cannot face the truth of this. Also progress and enlightenment- she cannot confront this directly as she has suffered before in the changing world (husband's homosexuality)

Shadows represent the dream world and the escape of reality. By the end of the play they become menacing to Blance (**** scene- Stanley's overtakes hers and scene 11- add to the jungle like atmoshphere). Represents how her dream world has not lead her the perfect life she strives for, instead have lead to the destruction of her mental state and inevitable downfall. Plastic Theatre at this point therefore dramatizes her downfall and her retreat into her own world (body goes limp after the final struggle) 

Paper Lantern covers the 'glare' of the light, however the light is still underneath the lantern and is only temporarily obstructed (Mitch tears it apart). It is a fragile barrier between reality and illusion. 

Compared to a moth. Attraction to the light (desire) but that can often lead to there destruction (bug killer). Blanche tries to protect herself from sexual desire which implicated her into trouble in Laurel. However Bright light is mentioned in her relationship with Allen, and that it has been dimmer since he killed himself. Bright light= youthful sexual innocence and dim light= sexual maturity and meaningless promiscuity.

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Masculinity

Masculinity linked to idea of a brute aggressive animal force as well as carnal lust. Stanley emphasises this through loud actions and violence. Clothing: bright lurid colours. Emphasis on Stanley's physical body through taking off his shirt and his physical obstruction of Blanche in the final scene. Affirms himself as head of the household through psychologically invading Blanche's past. Animal instincts, the stone age, physical action. Masculinity also asserts itself through response to the feminine- tender responses; tonal change when Stella is in labour and breaks down when she leaves him.

Mitch- masculinity as a trait of comfort and refuge- doesn't asser the same kind of physical dominance over space. HE. brags about his body to Blance and insists on precise measurements- imposing as a physical specimen 

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Femininity and Dependence

Both Stella & Blanche are dependent on men - define themselves through men and see men as a way to achieve happiness and fufilment. Blanche presents the innocent, fragile version of feminity as this is what she believes will attract men to her. Her solution for Stella to 'escape' the abusiveness of Stanley is to depend on the help of other men (Shep Huntleigh). Men take advantage of Blanche's nervous and fragile state as she seeks comfort and love through endless elicit affairs, this makes her undesirable so she sees marriage as her only way of surviving. She even sees Mitch as a refuge rather than a life partner,escape from destitution. Although her affairs make her seem ruined and weak they are celebrated and accepted when they are conferred to Stanley (esp. in last scene). She does not change this dependence on men at the end of the play where she is completely out of touch in reality, in fact it keeps her going 'I've always depended on the kindness of strangers'-  she has no realistic outlook on how to survive without men 

Stella's pregnancy shows her conception of herself as a realistic woman and aids her to consign herself as mother and wife. Eunice shows a similar practical reliance on men as Stella, as they both recouncil with their husbands quickly and put their needs above others ( Eunice comforts Stella that she did the right thing with Blanche at the end)

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Desire

Blanche's journey at the start of the play Desire-Cemeteries- Elysian Fields mirrors her journey in her life. sexual passion to the 'living death' of the asylum, 'Elysian Fields' is heaven for Greek heroes in mythology. The streetcar on a fixed route to it's destination symbol of fate and the inevitable destruction through sexual passion and desire. The metaphorical conversation between Stella and Blanche shows they are afraid to bluntly talk about the fate that desire as brought them to. To be driven by desire: self-destructive yet at the same time completely helpless - It is a part of Blanche's nature (the young man and 'Voulez vous cocher avec moi ce soir'- shows the audience she is inable to fit the role of the housewife which she wants to achieve. Bound by the 'rattle-trap streetcar'

Blanche's objectifies herself as a subject of male desire- flirtatious - feels she can resolve situation when she flirts with men (Stanley and Mitch) Clings to her sexuality more and more desperately as the play progresses - perhaps motivated by her husband's homosexuality making her question her desirablilty- loss of sense of self if she becomes undesireable 

Stella submits to Stanley's sexuality and eludes a sense of traditional femininity- motherhood and womanliness. Consigned to her gender role. The **** concides with the birth of the child which was created through the sexuality of Stanley and Stella. Both are playing roles and are controlled by Stanley. 

'Epic fornacations' lead to the destruction of the DuBois estates - foreshadows the role of desire in the play. Blanche's husband's desire leads to his suicide 

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