A Streetcar Named Desire: Themes 3

Topics: Mind, Societal attitudes toward homosexuality, Audience Pages: 4 (1577 words) Published: March 18, 2009
Choose an extract which you find dramatically effective and significant. Analyse the language and dramatic techniques used by Tennessee Williams to explore key attitudes and values and to create drama for the audience. Discuss the importance of the extract for the play as a whole and any relevant contextual factors.

In Tennessee Williams’ play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, each character embodies the themes Williams intends to explore with the audience. The extract that I have chosen to analyse is at the end of scene six (page 54-57), where Blanche reveals her distressing past to Mitch. I consider this as a key point in the play because many of the questions that crop up in the mind of the audience are at long last answered by what Blanche tells Mitch. This allows us to understand more about her character and behaviour. The theme of illusion vs. reality is delivered most strongly through Blanche in this extract. Blanche struggles to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Blanche is sufficiently self-aware to know that she cannot survive in the world as it is. Reality is too harsh, so she must somehow create illusions that will allow her to maintain her delicate, fragile hold on life. “A woman’s charm is fifty percent illusion” (scene 2) she acknowledges to Stanley.

It is a challenge to find the key to Blanche's melancholy but perhaps the roots of her trauma lie in her early marriage. She was haunted by her inability to help or understand her young, troubled husband and we understand that she has tortured herself for it ever since. Her drive to lose herself in the "kindness of strangers" might also be understood from this period in that her sense of confidence in her own feminine attraction has been shaken by the knowledge of her husband's homosexuality and she is driven to use her sexual charms to attract men over and over. Blanche’s encounter with Mitch then, represents her sexual double standards and also her need for a man to provide her with...
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