Analysis of Scene One of 'a Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee Williams

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A Streetcar named Desire
Scene 1 analysed
Simran Kaur Sandhu, 12G

Williams’ begins the scene with a description of New Orleans’ Elysian Fields; the town in which it is set. It seems old and slightly poor which begs the audience to ask the question ‘why?’ as America during the 1950’s was known for its stability and its economic boom in which all areas of America were invested in. So had this town been neglected, is it that cut off from mainstream America? The section is described as having a ‘raffish charm’ unlike most other American cities – Williams uses this to suggest a more casual lifestyle in Elysian Fields. Williams uses the conversation between the Negro woman and Eunice to show that racial ethnicities mix easily in Elysian Fields, strange for 1950’s America during which racial segregation was the norm and the fight for racial equality had just started. Williams is trying to convey that the place in which the play is set is unlike any other place in America, a place where formalities are nearly all forgotten. The ‘blue piano’ is introduced here and is used throughout the scene. It is clearly an important part to the play as a whole and is used to set the tone for the town. The term ‘blue’ is often used to describe sadness within someone. New Orleans is the town of jazz, where mainstream jazz was born – the blue piano could be indicative of the town’s jazz roots and therefore an apt way for Williams to describe the atmosphere for the scene. Playing blues on the piano could indicate a sad ending for the play, almost a forewarning for the audience that not all endings are happy. Williams’ use of the ‘blue piano’ in tense, sad or uncomfortable moments in the scene emphasises the characters emotions and adds dramatic flair to the scene. Williams’ dialogue in the first scene really introduces his characters at their most honest stage. Their reactions to each other reveal to the audience their most key traits and Williams’ descriptions of them hint at their upbringings. Their gestures and actions indicate to the audience how they feel towards other characters and his descriptions of the characters give the audience insight into their history. Stanley in scene one is introduced as a man about thirty years old, ‘roughly dressed’ – this gives him a very common air, a very normal man without many riches, someone who works hard for a living. His very first moment with Stella, his wife, we get to see, is him shouting for her and throwing a chunk of meat at her without even pausing to see if she caught it or to apologise for his behaviour. This gives him a very brutish manner about him and it is clear he is no gentleman. He also doesn’t really bother to tell Stella where he is going until she asks him; to the audience he is seen as a man who is not thoughtful towards his wife’s feelings and her plans. His idiolect suggests that he was born and bred in America, despite him being Polish, but has some 1950’s slang so that he isnt particularly well spoken and perhaps has a particular accent as he doesn’t quite pronounce all his T’s ‘My clothes’re stickin’ to me’. Williams’ long character description of Stanley later on in the first scene gives the audience an insight into Stanley’s life before the scene. His physical description is that of an attractive man, five ft eight inches, ‘strongly, compactly built’. It shows the audience he is a man a lot of women would want. Williams’ continues on to describe Stanley’s attitude to women being much like ‘a richly feathered male bird among hens’ hinting that Stanley’s experience with women is extensive and that he is no stranger to the attention of a female. Stanley is described as having an air of ‘animal joy’ about him – this illuminates his bestial mannerisms and perhaps suggests the way he treats Stella is both crude and inhumane. He is described as a man who is very much representative of the entire male species of human and very normal in that he loves ‘good food and drink and...
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