Streetcar + Malfi

Purity in Women

Cardinal: 'Shall our blood,/ The royal blood of Aragon and Castile,/ Be thus attainted.' 2.5

  • Irony in that the Cardinal despoils his office with his affairs + double standard
  • Context - hatred of Catholics and the Spanish
  • Repetition of blood - importance of blood purit - Motif

'Loose-bodied gown'

Mitch: '[dropping his hands from her waist] You're not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother' 9

  • Irony - he wants to have sex with her and that's ok for him but not her - double standard
  • Recurring Motif of cleanliness - Blanche and her baths - context
  • Physical rejection of her - this was his first touching of her also. 
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Gothic/ Supernatural

'[He turns the light on /She cries out and covers her face]' 9

  • Vampiric element - shies away from the light - Blanche is reduced the a shadow of her former self
  • Light also symbolises truth - recurring motif

'Echo, I will not talk with thee,/ For thou art a dead thing.

Thou art a dead thing' 5.3

  • The supernatural - like the ghost of the duchess/ prophet - adds ambience and meaning
  • proleptic irony
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sexual repression

Ferdinand: 'Happily with some strong-thighed bargeman,/... one o'th'woodyard//...some lovely squire/ That carries coal up to her privy lodgings' 2.5

  • adjectives + adverbs - homosexual?
  • euphemism - quite crude - explicitly sexual language - sexual repression
  • group of 3

Blanche: '... but I've got to be good and keep my hands off children. Adios!' 5

  • laissez faire - innapropriate - inabilty to properly interact socially hints at her derangement
  • possessive :'hands off' - sexual element
  • 'children' - mentally stilted.
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'is like a common fountain, whence should flow//Pure silver drops in general, but if...//some cursed example poison't it near t'head// Death and disease through the whole land spread.' 1.1

  • simile - comparing a court to a fountain
  • Adjective - Virtue, silver is light coloured - light = good 
  • Alliteration - the court is a microcosm that can affect the macrocosm of the country
  • juxtaposition of purity and poison - emphasis on the proleptic irony - 'something is rotten in the state of ' Malfi.

'right on my pretty white skirt!' 5

  • metaphor for her purity
  • double entendre - skirt as in a skirt or skirt as in woman
  • adjective colour - white, the spoiling shows her moral corruption
  • assonance - adds emphasis
  • feminist interpretation
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'He and his brother are like plum trees that grow crooked over// standing pools: they are rich, and o'erladen with fruit.' 1.1 

  • Simile - for corruption
  • adjective 'crooked' - corruption, somehow perverse and wrong + 'o'verladen' - excessive
  • pools - water = purity -they leach off purity
  • irony - Bosola means compass - Bosola displays little moral compass yet judges others

'What us this sister of yours, a// deep-sea diver who brings up sunken treasures?'

  • sarcasm - comic moment of Stanley's ignorance that the jewellery is next to worthless.
  • rhetorical question - adds to ignorance, suggests Blanche is corrupt and fake
  • 'sister of yours' very much putting Blanche onto Stella as her responsibility
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Misogyny 1

'like the irregular crab//Which, though't goes backward, think that it goes right//Because it goes its own way' 1.1

  • simile - suggests she cannot make good decisions for herself
  • anthropomorphism? - kinda implying she is as stupid as a crab - great chain of being
  • repetition of 'goes' - warning her against the action - stab at her intelligence - like she's stupid
  • ironic cos he goes back evolutionarily and morally throughout the play.

'[dropping his hands from her waist] you're not clean enough'

  • see note 1
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male dominance

'...women like that part which, like the lamprey,//Hath ne'er a bone in't' 1.1

  • euphemism - male power (just pre-poniard so phallic symbol - small one though?!?!)
  • symbolism - lamprey - lack of self-control and ungodly - hint at her faults
  • hint of the madness - reinforces what Antonio tells us earlier - pivotal 
  • very excessive - hypermasculinity - (gay?) - uncalled for

'So you want some rough-house! All right, let's have some rough-house!'

  • the ultimate assertion of hyper-masculinity is his sexual triumph over Blanche
  • repetition of rough-house - convincing himself she want this - hints at her fault
  • you- second-person personal pronoun - reinforces idea above
  • pivotal moment - violence or ****?
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Poison Imagery

'I'll conceal this secret from the world//as warily as those that trade in poision//keep poison from their children' 1.1

  • simile aligning secrets OR the marriage with poision 
  • proleptic irony that these secrets OR the marriage will ultimately contribute to the downfall of the Duchess (and Cariola and everyone else)
  • adverb - warily- takes on a double meaning - wary of the secret or of the marriage?
  • women's weapon

'She has been washed up like poison' 7

  • simile - Blanche is impure and therefore poisonous BUT also Stanley thinks she is poisoning his relationship with Stella
  • 'washed up' - water, purity - she is poisoning a pure source of nourishment.
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Light - expressionism.

''you were always too much i'the light' 4.1

  • expressionistic use of light - Ferdinand is heralded by darkness
  • two halves - twins
  • jealousy - 'you'
  • jealousy - sibling rivalry- childish

'[He seizes.....the paper lantern, tearing it off the bulb]

  • climatic final ripping away of her symbolic protection
  • 'seizes' and 'teares' - violent language
  • again a moment of light increasing on the stage but ironically Williams plays with convention as here light is painful to Blanche.
  • Williams uses light to question the ultimate goodness of absolute truth and virtue.
  • She is completely alone with no protection
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Cruelty towards the vulnerable

'your nightcap expresses  your ears sufficiently large' 2.1

  • comic element - looks like a donkey - stupid
  • cruel because Bosola is taking the mick out of his stupidity
  • 'night cap' bit of a joke on skull caps worn by judges which is what Castruchio aims at
  • Bosola expressing his disdain for the establishment

'Sure. We can send it along with the trunk' 11

  • double edged moment - is he being kind or cruel
  • colloquialism 'sure' - he's being pleasant - clearly happy/ enjoying the removal of Blanche which adds to the cruelty.
  • 'it' pronoun is unspecified so he's playing along with her
  • 'with the trunk' taken her trunk from her which is symbolic of 'everything' because in it is everything she owns
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Facade of clothing

'we bear about us//A rotten and dead body, we delight//To hide it in rich tissue' 2

  • depressing
  • metaphor for facades vs reality - people are rotten underneath - Ferdinand and Cardinal SHOULD be virtuous by virtue of their position but aren't
  • denial and hising of death
  • visceral language
  • almost oxymoronic

'It's Della Robbia blue. The blue of the robe in the old Madonna pictures' 11

  • 'Della Robbia' - very specific, obsessive - exemplifying what Bosola is saying - she is hiding her broken mind in pretty clothes
  • 'Madonna' - symbol of purity which she does not feel she has - facade of purity
  • 'old' - harkening back to a past time - she wants to go back as far as she can
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'I am// so troubled with the mother' 2

  • Pregnancy is a downfall to both women
  • 'the mother' - hysteria - symbol of misogyny and the subjugation of women
  • double meaning because Duchess is pregnant

'[The night is filled with inhuman voices like cries in a jungle']

  • simile - new orleans = jungle which is hostile
  • Stella giving birth untethers Blanche mentally and leaver her vulnerable to destruction
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'I am Duchess of Malfi still'

  • short, isolated sentence - she is alone but strong
  • imperative - she retains the power of her status
  • a heroic moment - tragic convention - her final moment of glory - her apotheosis

'[Blanche walks on without turning,...]'

  • Last mention of Blanche - isolated part of the sentence
  • tragic convention - her final moment of glory is leaving.
  • is she being cruel, kind, too mentally broken to care?
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Secrecy and Deception - use of light

'you are very cold./ I fear you are not well after your travel' 4

  • Ferdinand is playing a cruel trick on the Duchess (possibly to bring her down to his own madness) and is keeping her prinoser yet she is still kind emphasising her goodness and her bieng dismaterically opposed to him.
  •  this scene occurs in almsot complete darkness which allows Ferdianand to decieve the Duchess into believing she is kissing his hand when it is that of a dead man which he uses to convince her Antoinio is dead.
  • context - this would be possible at the time at blackfriars as it was indoors and completely candlelit

'[He turns the light on /She cries out and covers her face]' 9

  • Vampiric element - shies away from the light - Blanche is reduced the a shadow of her former self
  • Light also symbolises truth - recurring motif - she has used darkness to decieve Mitch about her age which is symbolic of all her greater deceptions
  • expressionistic technique
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Secrecy + defiance

'If all my royal kindred/ Lay in my way unto this marriage/ I'd make them my low foot-steps'

  • Defiamt in decieving her brothers
  • 'foot-steps' - steps to the altar metaphor + step over them triumphantly. She is asserting hat she is just as royal as the rest of them 
  • Context - rights of women and royal women

''I am the king around here,  so don't forget it! {hurls a cup and saucer to the floor}

  • Huge over-reaction - Stanley is hiding his shame at the one thing Blanche has over him which is class
  • '!' + [hurls] - usual aggression of Stnaley
  • 'Asserting his dominance in the household invoking the idea of kingship i the patriarchal sense, the Duchess asserts her literal royalty to invoke power. Stanley's use is almost mocking of aristocradcy in the Jocbean sense although this is not how he intends i
  • context - refernces Huey Long, young, empowered controversial governor of Louisian + patrarchy and the depressing samemness fo women's rights accross both plays
  • Williams' use of stage directions ever revealing
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