A Streetcar Named Desire



- 11 scene 1 act play

- TRAGEDY (unities of tragedy - time, setting, action)

- Blanche is not an archetypal heroine - might represent Williams himself

- each scene ends with a tableaux?

- elements of expressionism within a realist play

- Stage directions - very descriptive (atypically so) - concerned with emotions - prose-like - emphasis on lights/music

- Motif of Polka music - Blanche is thinking about her husband - when only she can hear it, she is closer to insanity

-  Elysian Fields = afterlife - idea that sex 'Desire' leads to death 'Cemeteries', which leads to the afterlife

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- postwar setting 1947 (doesn't dwell on war - atypical)

- Melting pot of New Orleans - vibrant & mulit-cultural

- Patriachial society - Blanche is reliant upon men (and when she cannot rely upon them, she descends into madness)

- Lack of understanding about mental health - Blanche will undoubtably suffer poor treatment

- Old V New America (Blanche is Old America - isolated in New Orleans)

- Williams' sister had a lobotomy & was institutionalised

- Williams suffered from depression/alcoholism - was a homosexual

- America cinema at the height of its popularity - audiences influenced by the movies

- Audience of 1947 cheered when Blanche was *****

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- unconventional techniques - expressionist evil shapes/jungle cries - were also used in The Glass Menagerie

- Drew on romantic myth of the South - but is clearly critical of it (also like The Glass Menagerie)

- Atypical stage directions - very detailed

- cast of film: Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh - have become synonymous with the roles

- does not criticise Blanche for her sexual history - instead excuses it due to her suffering - atypical argument

- Old v New America - topic regularly explored by American Writers (such as Eugene O'Neill)

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- Howard Barnes: 'the Eugene O'Neill of the present period'

- Harold Clurman: 'virtually unique as a stage piece that is both personal and social'

- JC Trewin: 'a squalid anecdote of a nymphomaniac's decay in a New Orleans slum'

- Harold Hobson: 'strictly and even puritanically'

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