A Streetcar Named Desire Essay

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Choose from a play a scene which you find amusing or moving or disturbing. Explain how the scene provokes this response and discuss how this aspect of the scene contributes to your understanding of the play as a whole.

The penultimate scene of Tennessee William’s play “A Streetcar named Desire” in which the protagonist Blanche Dubois is raped by her brother-in –law, Stanley Kowalski, is deeply disturbing to the audience. Williams uses this scene as a climax of both the play’s plot and a number of key themes

At the start of the scene we can see that Blanche’s already eccentric character has retreated deeply into the world of fantasy, after being rejected by her previous suitor, Mitch in the previous scene. She is described as having “decked herself out in a somewhat soiled evening gown” and as the scene opens she is placing a tiara on her head. This very powerfully demonstrates how fragile and unstable she has become, as she appears to be dressing up for some fantastical event. Blanche’s fantasies are developed further as the scene continues; when Stanley arrives home she begins to tell him a variety of tall tales for example that she has been invited on a cruise with a millionaire acquaintance of hers. At first it seems she is merely lying to Stanley as she is described as “improvising feverishly” but as the scene develops she seems to become caught up in her own fantasy, leading to desperate attempts to contact her millionaire. All of this shows very clearly the rapidly declining stability of Blanche’s state of mind which is disturbing enough for the audience but when Stanley takes advantage of Blanche’s vulnerable state and rapes her, we are completely unsettled and disturbed as we see Blanche’s mind irreversibly damaged leading to her committal to a mental institution in the following scene. This disturbing decline in Blanche is symbolic of fantasy and illusion, key themes of the play; William’s demonstrates that when we are hurt unimaginably, we retreat...
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