A Streetcar Named Desire

Topics: A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche DuBois, Stanley Kowalski Pages: 4 (1200 words) Published: September 9, 2013


How does Williams employ dramatic technique to develop character and themes in this extract (p.3-6)?


The opening of Tennessee Williams “A Streetcar Named Desire” (p.3-6) introduces most of the significant characters of the play, in particular Blanche DuBois, and is full of expressionist techniques to develop the characters and themes.

The play starts off with stage directions. The place is described as a “two-storey corner building on a street in New Orleans which is named Elysian Fields and runs between the L & N tracks and the river”. This phrase seems like an expressionist painting, it aims to bombard the senses with a many textured canvas. This carries on; “The houses are mostly white frame, weathered grey” suggests that this region of New Orleans is not a very wealthy one. Despite this it has a raffish charm.

The setting in New Orleans is an expressionist technique for itself. New Orleans means in French “nouveau Orleans”, where “Orleans” is a city in France. This French influence is also emphasised as the stage directions say that there are “outside stairs and galleries and quaintly ornamented gables to the entrances”. This style of buildings is typical French; elegant and extravagant. It does not fit to a run-down quarter like this. The French influence also highlights the expressionistic style of the play.

“Elysian Fields” is the old Greek idea of a place where all the heroes go after death. This also does not fit into this environment. Williams liked to use symbolism from ancient mythologies to underline his points to make. The theme of wearing out and becoming older becomes introduced.

The stage directions are still going on. “Brown river”; “the sky […] is peculiarly blue” introduces the colour symbolism that Williams uses throughout the whole play. Brown is the colour for earth and is often associated with the material side of life. In New Orleans everything is...
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