A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: A Review

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To What Dramatic Effect Does the Playwright Make Use of Light and Sound? A Streetcar Named Desire is a play written by Tennessee Williams in 1947. Like in many other modern plays, here the playwright makes an extensive use of stage effects: the ideas are expressed not only through words, but also by sound, music and light. They are used to set the context and the mood of the scene – or of the play in general; to implicitly suggest an idea, an action; to show the feelings of a character, and to let the audience into his/her mind. None of these effects are eye-candy-like props, but real dramatic devices that are indispensable for the spectator to fully appreciate all the dimensions of the play. Throughout the play, sound and music constantly give the audience a strong sense of setting: the “perpetual Blue piano”, the jazz music played by the Negro entertainers and the call of street vendors always remind us of the place where this tragedy is set – a multi-ethnical neighborhood of New Orleans, where people are not wealthy but life is easy and full of colors. At the arrival of Blanche in scene one, this popular joyfulness creates a wide contrast with her social background – she is aristocratic, well-mannered and fragile, and therefore from the very beginning of the play Williams shows the audience that she will not be able to fit in this new world that is much too different from hers. In that way the ambience created by sound and music give us a hint about the tragic end of the play. Another aspect that this setting shows is that it is a tragedy of everyday life: the audience can hear the “confusion of street cries” and can see the lights of other tenements in the background. We can think that by adding those elements the playwright means to emphasize the fact that unlike in classical dramas, here the play is not about kings or heroes: it is just the tragedy of a common woman, no more special than the tragedy that each other families in the background and the people...
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