Non-Verbal Behaviour and Gestures in "A Streetcar Names Desire"

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Task: Tennessee Williams uses very specific and detailed stage directions to indicate the emotions, thoughts and actions of his characters. Select a character from the play and discuss how his/her gestures and non-verbal behaviour serves to further reveal his/her personality traits. You might also add how his/her behaviour relates to the surroundings and cultural setting. The essay is based on Scenes 1 and 2. Word limit: 800

Tennessee Williams uses very specific and detailed stage directions to indicate the emotions, thoughts and actions of his characters in his famous play “A Streetcar Named Desire”. We communicate with much more than words. Most of the messages we send other people are nonverbal, these include our facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, posture, and tone of voice. The ability to portrait nonverbal communication in a play, or body language, is a powerful tool which can be utilized by any author to enhance the reading experience and give the play, even though it is just on paper in words and not enacted a deeper setting and a more natural interaction with the character. It acts like an unconscious language that broadcasts the character’s true feelings and intentions at any given moment. Blanche DuBois is no different in this respect to the extent that her actions speak more for her than she does verbally, considering her being a very talkative person. In the first Scene Blanche arrives at Elysian Fields to visit her Sister Stella, here the first sign of non-verbal behaviour can be observed. Blanche gives Eunice, the co-owner of Stella’s house and up-stair neighbour, a peculiar look as she enters the house, which she first doubted to believe was in fact her Sister’s due to its weathered grey and raffish appearance. This immediately causes a reaction on Eunice’ part resulting in a defensive tone of voice. “EUNICE [defensively, noticing BLANCHE’S look]: It’s sort of messed up right now but when it’s clean it’s real sweet.” – pg. 4 The...
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