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A Street Car Named Desire Free

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A Streetcar Named Desire was written by Tennessee Williams, which was first performed in 1947 in the United States and 1949 in Britain. This play was set in New Orleans, during a period of change from the upper-class southern society, to the new age of modern America. Williams uses various different devices to create dramatic tension in the play, including his detailed and extensive use of stage directions, use of imagery and symbolism, music, and speech of the characters. To contribute to this, Williams uses very descriptive stage directions.

This use of poetic stage directions can only be seen when reading the text, as the audiences of the play only see the directors’ interpretation of this, therefore the play will be analyzed, as not just a play, but also a text. The first real sign of the playwright’s use of dramatic impact appears in the first act when Blanche and Stella are re-united. Blanche appears very uncomfortable in this house as she is described as being “incongruous to this setting”, which means she is basically out of place.

When Blanche is left alone, she sits down “stiffly” with “shoulders slightly hunched” and “legs pressed close together”. These actions show how uncomfortable Blanche is feeling, which gives the audience a view of Blanche’s inner-anxiety. Also the playwright immediately reveals a side to Blanche that the audience would not expect, when she “tosses” down the drink of whisky. The line “I’ve got to keep hold of myself! ” suggests to the audience that Blanche has done this on previous occasions, and is perhaps an alcoholic.

This side of Blanche’s character that Williams’ revealed, would not have been expected prior to this moment, as the audience at that time would have expected a “Southern Belle” such as Blanche to compose herself in a much different manner than this. Next there is a sudden arrival of Stella, which increases the pace of the play, as the two sisters “joyfully” greet one another. The pace of the characters reflects in the pace of the lines after they meet. Before Stella calls out “Blanche! ” she “comes quickly around the corner… runs to the door”.

When Blanche sees Stella she “springs up and runs” to her. These actions of the characters immediately create excitement on stage, and this compares directly to the speed of the exchange of Blanche and Stella which follows. It is also interesting to note that the playwright uses “feverish vivacity” to describe the way in which Blanche speaks to Stella. This shows the audience how intense and exciting the reunion is for the two sisters. Blanche’s dialogue with Stella consists of many exclamation marks, which shows how edgy and anxious she is, and she barely gives Stella much chance to speak.

This fast-paced exchange increases tension until the climax of the scene, when Blanche explains about loss of Belle Reve. As Blanche is about to break the news to Stella, the dramatist introduces effective stage directions, such as Blanche being “in an uneasy rush” as she prepares to tell Stella. The atmosphere becomes very tense as Stella’s “face turns anxious”. When Blanche elaborates, the anxiety becomes more apparent to the audience, as there are four breaks in Blanche’s first sentence. There is also frequent use of exclamation marks which increases the volume of the conversation, and creates more tension.

These uses of punctuation are effective to show the audience that Blanche is very tense. To emphasize this anxious and edgy conversation, “Blanche begins to shake with intensity”. This use of stage movements will underline the tense atmosphere to the audience. Williams also uses dramatic devices such as the “music of the “blue piano” grows louder” in the background, to build up the tension. Blanche explains the story of loosing Belle Reve and slanders Stella about her relationship with her “… Polack! in a long passage, which contains numerous punctuations such as exclamation marks, and commas to increase the pace of the dialogue, and build up the tension.

Stella finally reacts to the insult by “springing” up and exiting. This action causes Blanche’s outburst to stop. In Scene 2, the playwright uses devices such as time, and music to set the scene, and create drama. The “perpetual “blue piano” around the corner” could possibly mean that another conflict is around the corner. The playwright effectively uses the ‘blue piano’ throughout the play to emphasize and also build up tension.

The time “is six o’clock the following evening” and this shows the reader that only one day has passed since the previous scene, which could mean that the characters may still be to some extent tense or nervous. The fact that “Blanche is bathing” is very symbolic as during the play, Blanche finds that the only place she can gain privacy is in the bathroom, and bathing becomes her only comfort. The link between Stanley entering and the blue piano being heard is significant, as it shows that Stanley is going to be the centre of the conflict this time.

When Stella and Stanley discuss the loss of Belle Reve, Stanley becomes agitated as the “Napoleonic Code” means he had a share of Belle Reve. Stella tries to prevent Stanley from questioning Blanche until some time has passed. She tells Stanley to wait “until she’s calmed down” because of “how she was last night”. Stanley takes no notice of this however, and still decides to confront Blanche. The playwright then uses violent and aggressive stage directions to show Stanley’s strength in the house.

“He stalks into the bedroom… pulls open the wardrobe… erks out an armful of dresses”. There is an image of Stanley being the hunter, as he “stalks” into the room. As Stanley is the predator, it is evident that Blanche will be the prey in this situation. Stanley also “hurls… jerks open… pulls up a fist-full… ” “kicks the trunk” and all of these images give the audience an effect of how violent Stanley is. All of these violent actions of Stanley also build up the tension until Blanche finally enters the scene. The poker night was going to be the name of the play; therefore Scene 3 is a very significant section of the play.

The playwright uses different, but very effective ways, to create drama and tension. The use of colour, such as the primary colours sets the scene, and also shows the strength and opulence of the men. An example of this is the “lurid nocturnal brilliance” of the kitchen. Instead of using music such as the ‘blue piano’, Williams uses “absorbed silence” to create a very tense and anxious atmosphere as the game of poker, and also the scene, begins. Williams creates a divide of the sexes, the men occupy poker table, and the women are dressing in the bedroom.

During the scene, the dialogue keeps switching between the two groups, and the tension increases as Stanley becomes more and more agitated by the distraction of the women. As Mitch shows interest towards the women, Blanche in particular, Stanley becomes increasingly bad-tempered, and impatient. When Mitch shows his femininity, Stanley immediately shuts this out by telling Mitch to “shut up”. It is not surprising that Mitch becomes the distraction as the scene continues. Eventually the playwright makes Stanley revert to “yelling” and “bellowing” to show the audience his impatience.

Mitch joins Blanche and Stella, and they turn the radio on for a second time. Williams uses the waltz to play on the radio, which is very refined music, as Blanche would greatly appreciate it, but Stanley wouldn’t. When Stanley hears the radio again he “stalks fiercely… tosses the instrument out of the window”. This shows the audience exactly how animalistic and violent Stanley is. Stella refers to him as a “drunk-animal thing” and he “charges” after her. This use of animal images is very effective in building the tension in the scene, and also outlines to the audience how violent and brutal Stanley is.

The “blow” that Stanley gives Stella was not shown on stage, but heard instead, as this wouldn’t have passed the sensors in 1947, the time when this play was first performed. When Stella returns to Stanley, the “low-tone clarinet moans” and this personification of the clarinet moaning reflects in the attitude of Stanley who has been reduced to “sobs”. Both come together making “low, animal moans” which compares to Stanley’s animalistic behaviour and also is a sexual reference. This is evident as Stanley “lifts her off her feet”, which is often associated with honeymoons.

The playwright uses all of these images to show that Stella and Stanley’s relationship is held sturdily by sex alone. In Scene 7, it is evident that some time has passed, as it is “mid-September”. Williams may have decided to set this scene after a large period of time to possibly suggest that Blanche and Stanley have managed to put up with each other for some time. This could also mean that their feelings will be locked up and all set to explode. Stella tells Stanley that Blanche is “In the bathroom”, and Stanley begins “mimicking” her.

Blanche has been in the bathroom “All afternoon” and Williams uses this use of time to suggest to the audience that is the only place where Blanche can avoid conflict, and remain content. Stanley discovers Blanche’s previous life, and explains this to Stella. It is ironic as the song Blanche is singing contains the lyrics: “If you believed in me! ” while Stella is struggling to believe what Blanche is really like. This is evident when Stella says “What–contemptible-lies”. All of this news about Blanche causes dramatic tension, as Blanche still doesn’t know that she has been found out.

Blanche realises that something is wrong, when Stella is acting indifferently. The scene ends as “the distant piano goes into a hectic breakdown. ” This use of music is a very dramatic ending to this scene, and will end the scene with a very tense and edgy atmosphere. The next scene is only “three-quarters of an hour later”, which was used by the playwright to show that the tension will still be high, and the characters will still be in their moods. The playwright describes the “still-golden dusk” that is “reflecting” and “blazes” through the windows.

This contrasts to the dark and “dismal” reality of the apartment. The real strength of the characters is shown, when Stanley reacts to Stella and Blanche’s insults towards him. The playwright uses his violent actions such as “he hurls a plate” “seizes her arm” and “hurls a cup and saucer”. All of these images give the audience an effect of Stanley’s strength, which contrasts strongly as “Stella begins to cry weakly”. This shows that Stanley is the strongest character. The scene ends with Stella being taken to the hospital, and in Scene 10, Stanley returns to the apartment alone.

Blanche and Mitch had just had an argument and “It is a few hours later that night”. The playwright uses time again to show that not much time has passed since Mitch left, however Blanche was “drinking fairly steadily” which would have calmed down her tensions. Stanley arrives in a good mood, in a “vivid green bowling shirt” which shows his strength and authority. Stanley had also “had a few drinks on the way”. Williams uses the drinking to create tension as it suggests that both characters may act differently due to the influence of alcohol.

Blanche notifies Stanley that she has been invited to stay with the millionaire, “Shep Huntleigh”, and that Mitch returned “with a box of roses” for her forgiveness. Stanley sets Blanche straight that he doesn’t believe her lies, and Blanche reverts to “Oh! ” which shows the audience the change in power, as Blanche’s dialogue is mono-syllabic. Blanche tries to escape by “crossing to the phone” but this link to the outside world cannot save Blanche. The playwright uses dramatic devices such as “the shadows and lurid reflections” to describe the movements of the night.

The walls “become transparent” which enables Williams to show links to the outside world. This link is a prostitute being attacked by a drunkard. Some could compare this to Blanche being attacked by Stanley. The tension continues to build in this scene until Blanche smashes a bottle, and holds the top at Stanley. “He springs towards her… catches her wrist”. It is suggested that Stanley raped Blanch as he says that they have “had this date with each other from the beginning! Blanche passes out, and “he picks up her inert figure and carries her to the bed” and as this happens the “hot trumpet and drums… sound loudly. ”

The playwright included this music to create drama, and also the use of “hot” could have significance to sex, and the loudness of the music reflects as this is the climax of this play. The playwright uses many theatrical devices to increase the tension in the play, and also build up a very anxious atmosphere. This was achieved in many ways, such as the use of music including the ‘blue piano’ which often sounded as an argument or violent act took place.

Another successful way in which Williams created dramatic tension was the use of time, not only during the scenes, but also from one scene to the next. This showed how the situation may have calmed down during a longer period of time, or still be as tense as the previous scene. Another effective device to create a tense atmosphere in the play was the actions of the characters, and imagery of this. For example Stanley was often described with animalistic actions, and this showed Stanley’s power, and also created a tense atmosphere, as if Stanley was a predator waiting to attack his prey.

The use of colour, and lighting also contributed to the dramatic effects of the play, as this set the scene, and reflected or contrasted the moods of the characters. An example of this could be the sunlight entering through the windows as the characters were very dismal. Another important dramatic device was the link with the outside world, which portrayed the reality of the situation, such as Eunice and Steve’s problems, the prostitute being attacked by the drunkard, and even the use of the telephone as a route of escape for Blanche.

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