Streetcar Named Desire Context


Personal Context

Mental illness is depicted throughout the play: Blanche's final journey of loss sanity to where she ends up in an aslyum, and the contrast between reality and fastasy. This is influenced by Williams' sister, Rose, who had received a minor lobotomy and spent the remaining years of her life in a instituion. 

Masculinity the embedded traits that Stanley holds has been influenced by Williams' own father, C.C Williams, who was a travelling salesman for a Shoe Company, and had excessive accounts of drinking. 

Old South is presented by Blanche's demeanor, she is stuck in the past and attempts to retain that 'Southern Belle' exterior. Always a hint of hysteria and is quite calculating. Inspired by Williams' own mother, who was overpowering, had hysterical attacks, pretentious attempt at Southern refinement and her incessant talking. 

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Personal Context

Homosexuality is a common theme within the play: Alan Grey (Blanche's ex husband who committed suicide over her bullying). Influenced by the fact, Williams was a homosexual and he was vunerable to his father calling him, 'Miss Nancy' meaning sissy. Williams' work is also influenced by Hart Crane who killed himself in 1932, the poet was trying to find a means of self expression in a hetrosexual world. 

As already mentioned mental illness was common throughout Williams' works such as his other plays, 'Suddenly last Summer'---a near lobotomy. Back then, mental illness wasn't as openly discussed nor accepted. Asylums back then would have also been poor---inhumane treatment. Something that as the audience towards the end of the play, we sympathise with Blanche and find cruelty in Stella's faliure to believe. 

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Streetcar is set in post-war America, the times of prosperity was being welcomed. Still didn't shelter those non-white Americans. New Orleans was a multi-cultural society and there was more immigrants living there due to the second wave of immigration. Very accepting of diversity. In relation to Blanche, she represents the old South, struggling to hold onto to the past. Her arrival is quite comical as she very much out of place, and is put off  by Stella's residency. Post-war America was also showing signs of moving towards 1960s revolutionary era---civil rights and exploitation of sexuality. 

Williams lived in New Oreans in 1938, behaviour was tolerated there. There was in fact two Streetcars named 'Desire' and 'Cemetries'. A metaphorical journey appears as. The road of desire leads to death. 

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Streetcar has Southern Gothic elements, over the shadows on the wall that Blanche fears and the **** that occurs. Its inspiration lay perhaps in an awareness of belonging to a dying culture – dashing, romantic, but at the same time living in an economy based on deep injustice and cruelty. The South is still segregated and unable to turn towards intergration. 

Enfranchised Women is a minor example as shown by Blanche, who despite representing the decaying Old South, she does indeed have a job that Stella does not. Blanche has realised she has had to work. A element of a moving force.

Elysium Fields literally means a blessed place for the dead to rest in Greek Mythology and therefore ironic that Blanche sees it as her heaven, only it is not and she is removed. Too tainted. 

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Williams' comment on the multi-cultural society that New Orleans is, appears contradictory to his labelling of the minor character, the black woman as the '***** Woman', however back then it was not seen as a pejorative term. De facto and dejure it had not changed, still overcoming intergration. 

Belle Reve is more than likely a plantation where slavery of black people occured to up keep the grounds. Again, Blanche is representation of the old South; a place that is full of injustice---links to Southern Gothic. Means 'beauitful dream' however this is not the case for its loss. 

The South is often romanticised such as Gone with the Wind 1936, Blanche is trying to make appeal to the Old South, the innoncence and purity. Thread away the injustice and flaws of it. Hides away the ugly history of the South. 

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New Orleans is nicknamed, 'The City that care forgot' in relation to its diversity. 

The relation to alcohol relates towards Williams' dependence on it within the 1960s, a intoxicant to escape reality as Blanche does. 

In relation to Stanley's treatment of women, it relates to Williams' influence of D.H Lawerence over dehumanising effects, which then Williams published 'I rise in flame, Cried in the Phoenix' that followed the story of a man who wanted to impregnate all women--treatment like objects. 

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